For the first time, a restaurant in southwest Iowa has won the Iowa Pork Producers Association’s annual Best Breaded Pork Tenderloin contest. IPPA announced last week that Three C’s Diner of Corning is the winner of the 2018 top award, with the restaurant’s “Award-Winning Hand-Breaded Tenderloin” — so named because it won second place in the contest in 2015.
WINNERS: Steve and Missy Sanson of Three C’s Diner proudly display their award-winning tenderloin sandwich.
Owners Steve and Missy Sanson are excited to win the award — a goal they’ve had since opening the diner in January 2012. “A great breaded tenderloin was one of the things we wanted to be known for,” Steve says. The couple explained how they set their goals for the diner. They came close once before, when they received second place in the 2015 contest. “Our only option was to succeed,” Missy says. “We never thought about failure.”
IPPA judges selected Whatcha Smokin’ BBQ + Brew of Luther as runner-up in this year’s contest. IPPA presented that restaurant with $250 and a plaque. Rounding out the top five finalists (in no particular order) are Landmark Bistro, Grundy Center; Nine & Dine Restaurant, Eagle Grove; and Stout’s Irish Pub & Grill, Clinton. These restaurants received a “Top Five” plaque to display in their restaurant.
Popular competition every year
IPPA received 1,594 nominations in this year’s contest. The committee judged 43 of those establishments this past summer based on the quality of the pork, taste, physical characteristics and eating experience. “Our tenderloins are cut at the restaurant each day,” says Steve Sanson. “They are approximately 2½ to 3 inches thick before they go through the tenderizer. They are egg-dipped and hand-breaded in a mixture of flour and secret spices before being fried and served.
Typically, the Three C’s Diner in this town of nearly 1,500 people goes through 120 pounds of tenderloin a week. And that’s not the only pork product on the menu. Every weekend the diner serves pulled pork, baby back ribs and ham balls, along with the daily offerings of ground pork burgers, grilled tenderloin, tenderloin wraps and any number of sandwiches that feature bacon. On top of that, you can add sausage and bacon served on their weekend breakfast menu.
The IPPA Restaurant and Foodservice Committee made the official presentation at the restaurant on Oct. 12. Three C’s Diner received a check for $500, a plaque and a large banner to display. Three C’s Diner, at 309 Ninth St. in Corning, is open Tuesday through Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday from 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. It is closed Mondays.
Each year, the IPPA tenderloin contest recognizes Iowa dining establishments that have pork as a regular menu feature in support of Iowa’s nation-leading pork industry. The winner is announced in October to celebrate the state’s dedicated pig farmers and local restaurants and their hardworking teams — and a famous Midwest favorite: the pork tenderloin sandwich.
The previous winners of this contest are:
• 2017, Grid Iron Grill, Webster City
• 2016, Nick’s, Des Moines
• 2015, Belmond Drive-In, Belmond
• 2014, Lucky Pig Pub & Grill, Ogden
• 2013, River Rock Café, Mount Pleasant
• 2012, Breitbach’s Country Dining, Balltown
• 2011, Gramma’s Kitchen, Walcott
• 2010, Buck’s Bar & Grill, Mitchellville
• 2009, Goldie’s Ice Cream Shoppe, Prairie City