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A look back at winners of the best tenderloin in Iowa contest by the Iowa Pork Producers Association. Ben Yoder/The Register

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The moment we've all been waiting for is finally here. The winner of the Best Pork Tenderloin in Iowa has been announced.

The Iowa Pork Producers Association has named Three C's Diner at 300 9th St. in Corning as the winner of the Best Breaded Pork Tenderloin Contest for 2018. It's the first time a restaurant in southwest Iowa has won the competition.

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IPPA judges chose Whatcha Smokin' BBQ & Brew in Luther as the runner up. Landmark Bistro in Grundy Center, Stout's Irish Pub & Grill in Clinton and Nine & Dine Restaurant in Eagle Grove rounded out the top five finalists. 

Owners Steve and Missy Sanson were 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 said.

The tenderloins are cut at the restaurant each day. They are approximately 2-1/2 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, Three C’s Diner goes through around 120 pounds of tenderloin a week in Corning, a town of nearly 1,500 people. And that’s not the only pork product on the menu. Every weekend it serves pulled pork, baby back ribs and ham balls, along with 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.

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The diner came close to winning the competition once before, when it received second place in the 2015 contest. “Our only option was to succeed,” Missy said. “We never thought about failure.”

The IPPA Restaurant and Foodservice Committee is making the official presentation at the restaurant on Friday. Three C’s Diner will receive a check for $500, a plaque and a large banner to display for the win.

IPPA judges selected Whatcha Smokin’ BBQ + Brew of Luther as the runner up in this year’s contest. IPPA will present that restaurant with $250 and a plaque. Rounding out the top five finalists (in no order) are Landmark Bistro in Grundy Center, Nine & Dine Restaurant in Eagle Grove and Stout’s Irish Pub & Grill in Clinton. These restaurants will receive a Top Five Plaque to display in their restaurant.

IPPA received 1,594 nominations in this year’s contest. The committee judged 43 establishments this summer based on the quality of the pork, taste, physical characteristics and eating experience.

The 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 pig farmers, local restaurants and their teams and a famous Midwest favorite — the pork tenderloin sandwich.

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Three C's Diner

Location: 300 9th St., Corning

Hours: Tuesday through Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday, 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sunday, 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.; closed Mondays.

Contact: (641) 322-4182; Facebook

Previous winners:

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 (now out of business)

2009: Goldie’s Ice Cream Shoppe, Prairie City

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