Cedar Falls, Iowa Chef Wins State Culinary Competition

Haley Silhacek, Ferrari’s Ristorante Awarded First Place, Chefs from Polk City, and Des Moines also Honored

Des Moines, IA – Eight chefs from across Iowa faced off in the kitchen of Johnny’s Italian Steakhouse in West Des Moines, on Sunday, November 9, in an annual culinary competition hosted by the Iowa Restaurant Association (IRA) and sponsored by the Iowa Beef Industry Council and The Soyfoods Council. The challenge before each chef was to prepare and present a unique culinary creation encompassing beef and a soy side dish. This one-of-a-kind competition is held annually in conjunction with Celebrating Excellence, the IRA’s Annual Awards Gala. Chef Haley Silhacek, from Ferrari’s Ristorante at Park Place Event Centre in Cedar Falls, took top honors in the competition with her presentation of “pancetta, tofu and fresh dill stuffed beef Tri-Tip with a blood-orange miso sauce, accompanied by an edamame and tofu orzo with roasted baby pumpkin and roasted asparagus.” Silhacek received a $1,000 cash prize.

Chef Ephraim Malag, of Tournament Club of Iowa in Polk City, placed second with his “Beef Sarang – beef marinated in soy ginger and saki grilled served with mango edamame relish and breaded tofu. Malag received a $500 cash prize.

Tri -Tip Featured
Each chef presented an entrée using Tri-Tip with a soy side dish. Dishes were judged for appearance, taste, tenderness, texture and product use, overall creativity, and practicality. The chefs were given 15 minutes to present their dishes to the panel of expert judges in a blind tasting format.

People’s Choice

As part of the Celebrating Excellence Gala, the chefs also served samples of their competition dishes to the attendees of the awards event. Event attendees then cast their votes for the “People’s Choice” award. The People’s Choice winner was Troy Trostel of Trostel’s Greenbriar Restaurant in Johnston. His “cumin soy nut encrusted Majinola Iowa Beef Tri-Tip with Thai ginger black rice, Sunrise Farms citrus micro green edamame salad with smoked tofu crouton and wasabi soy foam” was the crowd favorite. His dish also placed third in the expert judging. For his two honors, Trostel received $500 in cash prizes.

“Every year this event gets more competitive,” said Doni DeNucci, president and CEO of the Iowa Restaurant Association. “It is amazing to see the new approaches these talented chefs bring to two Iowa mainstays– beef and soy. It is a testament to the fact that Iowans have many outstanding restaurant choices to choose from as they dine out across the state.”

About The Soyfoods Council – The Soyfoods Council is a non-profit organization, created and funded by Iowa Soybean farmers, providing a complete resource to educate and inform healthcare professionals, consumers and the foodservice market about the many benefits of soyfoods. The Council represents nearly all facets of the food industry, including soyfoods product manufacturers, ingredient suppliers, state and national soybean checkoff boards, food retailers and distributors, health and foodservice professionals. Iowa is the country’s number one grower of soybeans and is the Soyfoods Capital of the world.