The Grid Iron Grill in Webster City holds claim to top honors in the 2017 best pork tenderloin contest. The annual designation comes from the Iowa Pork Producers Association (IPPA), based on customer nominations and the ruling of a team of expert judges.

“They’ve been flying out of here like crazy since the announcement,” says Grid Iron Grill owner Burke Risetter. In a “heads up” from IPPA, he was told to expect a 300 percent increase in business. “That’s not too far off. We sold 1,500-2,000 pork loin sandwiches the first week out of the gate.”

“This is just phenomenal,” says Risetter, awed that so many will travel just to sample the prize-winning Midwestern delicacy. He has had customers from around the state as well as several local faces he “hasn’t seen in awhile.” One gentleman from Denver ordered 50 tenderloins breaded and frozen, to be shipped to him in time for Christmas dinner.

Risetter says perfecting the loin has been a process of trial and error. “We tried a few different things until we were finally confidant we had an amazing product.” The IPPA judges agreed.

For Risetter, it’s all about giving the product a “bit of TLC.”

His 7- to 8-ounce pork loins are cut fresh every day, using only the center cut, not the loin ends. Those are used in other Grid Iron Grill dishes. The loin slices are hand-tenderized — tapped, not pounded — then dipped in an egg wash and coated with a breading mix.

Special care is taken to keep the egg wash at the ideal temperature. “If it gets too warm, the breading cooks darker,” Risetter explains. And the flour mixture is sifted every 10 loins to maintain consistency.

All that is done while making 80 loins at a time since the increase in traffic due to the Best  pork tenderloin designation.

The “icing on the cake,” according to Risetter, is the frying oil. Filtered every morning before the day’s cooking begins, he uses a designated fryer for just the pork. “That way there is no flavor contamination. It makes all the difference.”

Located on the east side of Webster City, the Grid Iron Grill & Sports Lounge offers a kid-friendly environment where the adults can partake of their beverage of choice. A dozen big-screen TVs, two dining rooms and bar offer plenty of space and ambiance. The establishment is known for its burgers and chicken as well as its tenderloins, and has earned several readers' choice awards through the Daily Freeman-Journal in Webster City.

The Grid Iron is open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday along with a Sunday brunch.

This is the 14th year for IPPA’s Best Pork Tenderloin Contest. The contest promotes pork and Iowa’s pork producers.

Queck-Matzie is a freelance writer from Greenfield.