Cup N' Saucer Cafe of Sherburn, serving confit pork with corn grits, kale and bacon powder, nabbed first place with the judges and the people at the Martin County Pork Cook-Off on Wednesday.
The unique dish featured kale and sweet corn grown in proprietors Seth and Elizabeth Lintelman's own garden, and corn meal from Weiss Milling.
"Everything was local except for the pork and bacon powder," Seth Lintelman said after the win.
Bill Stehan of Kat’s Hog Heaven of Jackson hands Randy Chubaty a barbecue pork slider during the 17th annual Martin County Pork Cook-Off Wednesday evening at the Martin County Arena.
Green Mill of Fairmont took second place with the professional judges and third place in the people's choice category with its Asian pork spring roll.
Two Jackson restaurants also won, with Pillar's Pub and Eatery taking third place with the judges with a Caribbean blaze, and Kat's Hog Heaven earning second place in the people's choice with its pulled pork barbecue sliders.
Other restaurants participating were: The Marina Lounge of Fairmont, with a pork commercial; Bailey's Restaurant and Bar of Ormsby, serving pork kabobs; Asian Palace of Fairmont, serving sweet and sour pork; and Serenades by the Lake of Fairmont, serving a pork tender pop with a dried fruit compote.
"We're really excited to see a lot of these new restaurants in the area competing," said Bruce Peters, one of the organizers of the Martin County Pork Cook-Off.
There are usually six to eight restaurants and caterers competing, with a maximum of 10 allowed.
The Martin County Pork Cook-Off, now in its 17th year, seems to get more popular each year. It offers area restaurants and caterers an opportunity to offer a pork meal, be it a tried-and-true dish or something unique. A total of 400 tickets are made available to the public, with ticket-holders getting to sample all the entered dishes and weigh in with their opinions.
Three professional connoisseurs also judge the dishes, and first, second and third place are awarded in both the professional judges and people's choice categories.
Professional judges for this year's cook-off were Theresa Twohey, director of communications and marketing for the Minnesota Pork Producers; Tim McCarty, executive chef for the Mayo Foundation House; and Lacey L. Leuth, who holds a degree in culinary arts and is the operator of Lola's Larkspur Market in New Ulm.