Duck, a natural fit for today’s global cooking culture, was very relevant in the 2012 Maple Leaf Farms Chef Recipe Contest. This year’s contest challenged entrants in two categories—professional chef and culinary student—to produce an original small plate recipe showcasing Maple Leaf Farms duck. More than 250 entries from across the country were submitted in competition for the cash prizes.

Ale and Apple Duck Banderillas with Pralined Bacon and Apple Hoisin Sauce captured the Chef Category Grand Prize, earning creator chef Andrea Spring of Sign of the Mermaid restaurant in Anna Maria, Florida, $5,000. Chef Michael Watz of Washburne Culinary Institute, Chicago, claimed the second place prize of $3,000 in the Chef Category with his Manchego Duck Pintxos with Tapas Red Curry Cream recipe.

The third place prize of $1,500 in the Chef Category was presented to chef Eric Braun, who is the executive chef at the Allen County Jail in Fort Wayne, Indiana. His winning recipe was for Duck Leg Confit Meatballs in Grand Marnier Sauce.

The Student Category offered two top prizes: The Grand Prize of $2,500 was awarded to Charlie Stephens of Fox Valley Technical College in Appleton, Wisconsin, for his Savory Duck Confit Cheesecake Bites with Caramelized Balsamic Onion Jam. Jessica Gershman, student at The Art Institute of Indianapolis, took the second place $1,500 prize with her Asian Brussels Sprout Salad with Duck Confit recipe.

All submissions were judged anonymously on simplicity (easily sourced ingredients and ease of preparation), originality, flavor, and accuracy of the recipe ingredients and method. The recipes selected as finalists went through two additional blind evaluations.

“Each of our judging panels was impressed with the creativity of the chefs and the variety of duck products used this year,” says Maple Leaf Farms marketing director Cindy Turk.  “We invite even more chefs to ‘Discover Duck’ and enter the contest next year!”

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