October is Pork Month, and the Iowa Pork Producers Association has announced its top five picks for the 2021 Iowa’s Best Breaded Pork Tenderloin Contest.
The finalists, chosen by a panel of undercover judges, span the entire state. They are:
“As the judges went around the state this year, these are the restaurants that had those tenderloins that were hand breaded, they were really juicy tenderloins, and the presentation was really nice,” said Dal Grooms, communications director for the association.
The selection process began in the spring when tenderloin fans across the state were asked to nominate their favorite restaurants. There was no shortage of nominations: Nearly 6,000 were submitted for 526 different tenderloin locations.
The association’s restaurant and food service committee reviewed the entries and sent undercover judges to the top 40 restaurants, where they scored the sandwiches on criteria including pork quality, taste, physical characteristics and eating experience.
“We are always looking for a tenderloin that celebrates the taste of pork,” Kelsey Sutter, the association’s marketing and programs director, said in a news release. “I’ve been involved with this contest for 10 years, and I’ve seen a definite increase in restaurants offering thick, hand-breaded tenderloins that do just that.”
In mid-October, after another round of undercover tastings at the top five restaurants, the association will announce the first- and second-place winners. The winning restaurant will receive $500, a plaque, a banner and bragging rights.
Last year’s winner was PrairieMoon on Main in Prairieburg, population 188. First-place winners must wait five years before competing again.
Tenderloin enthusiasts can follow along on social media using the hashtag #Porktober21.