(Chicago, IL) — November 2015 – Eight chefs from IACC-member properties across the US gathered to compete for the coveted US Copper Skillet at the DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Hotel & Conference Center Chicago, where the winners edged one step closer to the International Copper Skillet Competition global finale in April.

Austin Klug, restaurant line chef at The Inn at Virginia Tech and Skelton Conference Center took the “Junior Category US Copper Skillet Award” for his winning dish in the cook-off. Local judges named Austin the winner for his dish of creamy pepper polenta with lobster mushrooms, Wagyu New York strip steak and sesame seared Ahi tuna.

Sean Curry, executive chef at the Hilton Chicago/Oak Brook Hills Resort & Conference Center took the coveted “Senior Category Copper Skillet Award” for his winning dish of Tikka masala tuna loin with micro radish salad, sautéed ratatouille, mushrooms, and fingerling potato hash with Wagyu New York strip steak.

In the competition, the chefs were presented with basic pantry items along with a "mystery basket" of proteins. They were given 30 minutes to prepare, create, and present their creations to local area judges.

Sean Anderson, vice president of operations, Sodexo Conferencing, and vice president of the IACC-Americas chapter, commented, “Each year IACC showcases the best in culinary performance through its Copper Skillet competitions, and this year’s US cook-off featured impressive talent from eight chefs who competed from around the country.” Anderson continued, “The chefs competing today represent the best of the best from across the United States, competing for the opportunity to represent the Americas in the global Copper skillet final in New York City in April.”

For the second year in the 12-year history of the Copper Skillet Competition, IACC introduced a Junior Chef category where IACC conference center chefs under the age of 26 competed in the cook-off.

The winners of the February US and the Canadian cook-offs (one senior chef and one junior chef) will go on to compete with other chefs from IACC chapters around the world at the International Copper Skillet Competition to be held during the IACC-Americas Connect conference in April 2016 at Convene Midtown East in New York City. Here the 12th International Copper Skillet Global Champion will be named.

The popular Copper Skillet Competition was introduced in 2004 to highlight the artistry and skill of the best chefs from IACC-member conference centers around the world, and to honor their contributions to the shared goal of providing an outstanding conference center experience.