Cedar Falls chef wins Iowa Pork culinary contest

A Cedar Falls chef was named Chef Par Excellence at the Iowa Pork Producers Association’s 32nd annual Iowa Pork Taste of Elegance contest on Jan. 22 in Des Moines.

Andrew Ungs of Whiskey Road in Cedar Falls took top honors in the culinary contest at the Veterans’ Memorial Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center. Chef Ungs prepared “Peking Pork with Wasabi Mashed and Gingered Carrots” and earned a plaque and $1,000 for his efforts. Ungs also receives a trip to the National Pork Summit in St. Helena, California, this spring.

Superior Chef, or second place, went to Chef Alex Strauss of the West Lakes Hy-Vee in West Des Moines. He received $500 and a plaque for his entrée titled “Country Rib Tonkatsu and Shogayaki Rice Bowl.”

Chef Tim Oathout of Zeppelins in Cedar Rapids took home the third-place honors. He prepared “Asian Glazed Country Pork Ribs” and earned the Premier Chef plaque and $250.

A panel of local media professionals selected the Media’s Choice Award. It was presented to Chef Dominic Iannerelli of Jethro’s BBQ and Splash Seafood restaurants in Des Moines. He pocketed a $250 cash prize and a plaque for his “Country Style Ribs ‘Shank’ Style.”

A dozen chefs from around the state competed for the awards in the afternoon and all were required to prepare an original entrée using country style pork ribs. A team of judges selected the winners on the basis of taste, appearance and originality.

A crowd of around 300 invited and paid guests attended the evening reception, which featured samples from all 12 contestants, appetizers and samples of wine and beer from several Iowa wineries and breweries.

The guests also were able to select their favorite pork entrée for the People’s Choice Award. That went to Chef Kelly Littlefield of Milk and Honey in Harlan. Her “Char Siu Ribs with Local Spiced Sweet Potato” earned her $250 and a plaque.

Judging this year’s competition were Natasha Sayles, executive director of the Des Moines Winefest; Stephanie Gerike, assistant vice president of channel marketing at the National Pork Board; and Kevin Scharpf, owner/chef of the Brazen Open Kitchen in Dubuque.

The evening reception was emceed by KCCI-TV anchor Eric Hanson.

The Taste of Elegance is a Pork Checkoff-funded culinary competition designed to inspire innovative and exciting ways to menu pork. This event brings together talented chefs from across Iowa for an elegant occasion that highlights pork and its popularity as a menu favorite.

The IPPA Taste of Elegance competition and reception helped kick off the 46th annual Iowa Pork Congress.