Dining With Denise Neil

How a Wichita chef turned an unusual pork cut into a trip to Napa

Chef John Michael, the lead instructor with the Butler County Hospitality & Culinary Arts program, won a trip to Napa with an on-the-spot pork dish.
Chef John Michael, the lead instructor with the Butler County Hospitality & Culinary Arts program, won a trip to Napa with an on-the-spot pork dish. File photo

Students in Butler Community College’s Hospitality & Culinary Arts program can rest assured that their professor’s still got it.

Chef John Michael, who in 2012 left the restaurant business to become the head of Butler’s culinary program, recently earned himself a trip to Napa Valley by making the best dish at a contest sponsored by the National Pork Board.

Michael was attending a conference in Chicago put on by the Center for the Advancement of Foodservice Education a few weeks ago and entered a cooking contest open to all the chef/instructors in attendance. The first step was to submit a pork-themed recipe, and Michael offered the recipe for the sou vide spare ribs on popcorn grits that he and his students entered in a Death by Chocolate competition a couple of years ago.

That recipe earned him a spot in the field of eight chefs who would participate in a live cooking competition. The chefs were given 45 minutes to plan, two hours to cook and were required to use all the ingredients in a provided “market basket.”

Michael was the last chef allowed to choose a cut of pork, and he took an unusual cut he’d never worked with before – pork blade.

He turned it into a pork blade roulade stuffed with mushroom duxelle over roasted fingerling potatoes, with pan roasted baby carrots and zucchini tournee and a lemon caper pan sauce.

The judges loved it, and Michael earned an expense-paid trip to next spring's Pork Summit in Napa Valley.

Many of the other chefs went in with advance plans, Michael said, but he – thinking his chances were slim – winged it.

“I didn’t really worry about it too much,” he said. “I think that is part of why I did well. I was able to relax.”

  Comments