Iowa (KCAU) — Nominations for Iowa’s Best Breaded Tenderloin Contest are currently being accepted, and the deadline to submit your nominations is fast approaching.  

According to a release from the Iowa Pork Producers Association (IPPA), the best-breaded pork tenderloin contest has been running for 20 years and is currently accepting online votes until June 6.  

The release indicated that the contest used to be referred to as a “tenderloin tsunami” and there has been a history of people traveling various distances to try the winning tenderloins.  

“Watching this competition grow from just 90 nominees in 2003 to 546 last year, has been incredible,” said IPPA’s Marketing and Programs Director Kelsey Sutter, “Over the past two decades, we’ve seen every winner put a unique spin on this classic Midwest staple, but each sandwich starts the same – with high-quality, delicious pork.”  

For establishments to qualify, they must offer a hand-breaded pork tenderloin on their menu and be open year-round with regular hours. Establishments such as food trucks, concession stands, season eateries, and catering businesses do not qualify, according to the release.  

The first round of the contest tells the public about the top choices, and those who nominate the winning restaurant will have a chance to win a $100 prize. The release specified that nominations are limited to one per person.  

After the nominations have closed, the IPPA’s restaurants and foodservice committee will put together the top five restaurants in each of the eight districts. A panel of undercover judges will visit the top contender’s locations and decide which tenderloin they thought was the best based on pork quality, taste, physical characteristics, and eating experience.  

The release stated that there will be five finalists that will be announced in October. The winner of the contest will be among the final five and will receive a plaque to display in their business, statewide publicity, and $500. The runner-up will also receive a plaque, as well as $250.  

Winners of the past five years include: 

2021: Victoria Station, Harlan 

2020: PrairieMoon On Main, Prairieburg 

2019: The Pub at the Pinicon, New Hampton 

2018: Three C’s Diner, Corning 

2017: Grid Iron Grill, Webster City 

In 2021, IPPA received 5,298 nominations for 526 different establishments and ultimately, Victoria Station won.  

“That’s pretty good for a prime rib join,” said co-owner Richard Buman. Buman and his wife Angela Buman purchased the restaurant in 2020. Their menu features prime rib, steak, seafood, pork, and poultry.  

The release that announced the 2021 winners stated that the couple took over the restaurant which featured a pork sandwich that the Buman’s personalized.  

The hand-cut, 8-ounce pork loin is tenderized three times, coated in a blend of seasonings, and marinated for an hour. The tenderized and marinated loin is dipped in a buttermilk breading and then fried. The sandwich includes lettuce, tomato, onion, and pickles. The release stated that the Buman’s recommend trying the sandwich with the house-made garlic aioli with two pieces of Texas toast. 

“For the aioli, we use garlic that we roast ourselves for the prime rib,” said Richard Buman, “In my opinion, that really makes the sandwich stand out.”  

Submit your nominations here.