by Andrea Doyle | March 09, 2018
In most competitions, contenders have their eye on the gold. But that isn't the case when conference centers face off in one annual IACC competition -- in this competition, participants are going for the coveted Copper Skillet.  

This year's Global Copper Skillet cook-off for the Americas chapter took place at Summits of Chicago, an IACC-certified venue, and had four chefs from America and Canada going head-to-head -- or in this case, toque-to-toque -- to secure their chance to compete against the winners of the Europe and Australia Asia Pacific chapters at the Global Copper Skillet cook-off during IACC-Americas Connect on Tuesday, April 17, at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia.

Brian Wagner of the Chauncey Conference Center in Princeton, NJ, emerged as senior chef winner, while Ryan Beauvais of NAV Centre in Cornwall, Ontario, was the junior chef winner. 

Wagner's dish was roasted pork tenderloin, cauliflower couscous, buttered prawns, cauliflower roasted in brown butter, and pickled jalapenos. Beauvais' dish was pan seared pork tenderloin accompanied with a mushroom cream sauce, sweet potato and russet potatoes hash, and butter poached shrimp.

"I've thoroughly enjoyed taking part in all stages of the cook-off; throughout the competition I've been able to develop my dishes, using a variety of premium produce, and techniques," said Wagner.
 
Here is how the contest works: The chefs are given an array of basic pantry items along with a "mystery basket" of proteins and other fresh grocery items, and they have 15 minutes to prepare and 30 minutes to create and present a dish to judges.

"Food is such an important aspect of the meeting experience and we are pleased to once again be showcasing the talents of the IACC culinary superstars with our clients. The Copper Skillet competition is always interesting, motivating, and entertaining," said Louise Silberman, owner and managing director of Summits of Chicago.

There was a time when conference centers and culinary prowess didn't go together. That is far from the case today.

"At its core, the Copper Skillet is a statement to the industry that IACC chefs around the world, from every country, and in every state, represent the very best in culinary talent.  As the role of food and beverage has moved to center stage in meetings and events, IACC continues to lead the way," said IACC Americas President Sean Anderson.

The Copper Skillet competition started in 2004 as a way to highlight the artistry and skill of the best chefs from IACC-member conference venues around the world.