Ontario Finest Meat Competition

In 1987, MPO (then known as OIMP), launched its first meat competition with product categories that embrace both modern trends and the enduring heritage of Ontario’s artisanal meat and poultry products. The competition, which is exclusive to MPO members, moved from an annual to a biennial event in 2003.

Attracting over 115 entries made from Ontario meat and poultry, this event draws a stellar roster of knowledgeable, influential judges including retail buyers, media, and chefs determining the Platinum, Gold, and Silver award winners, which are presented at the MPO Awards Gala.

Competition Rules

Category Definitions

Watch Judging from Previous Years

2017 Competition Winners

2019 Competition Winners

Meet Our Judges

Our current roster of judges boasts impressive credentials. Food savvy and with a wealth of industry knowledge our panel includes:

Katie Chemij
BHSc, RHN, Chef & Nutritionist

Love Food. Live Well. These are words Katie lives by every day and create the foundation of her career as a holistic nutritionist and natural foods chef. Her food philosophy is simple: shop, cook and eat as wholesome as possible. Her goal is to inspire healthy living through delicious food. Katie is the owner and operator of Kate and the Kitchen, offering nutrition and culinary services to individuals and in the workplace. Katie is also a freelance chef, developing recipes for marketing agencies and food companies, and currently consulting in the not-for-profit sector, teaching cooking classes and skills training to community agencies that feed the less fortunate.

Katie holds a bachelor’s degree in health sciences from Western University, post-graduate certificate in Workplace Wellness and Health Promotion from Centennial College, and professional designation as a Registered Holistic Nutritionist from the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition. Her chef credentials come from the Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts in NYC where she mastered the challenge of cooking with health-supportive ingredients using traditional and classically-inspired recipes.


Alexa Clark
Digital Strategist, Content Marketer, & Social Media Enabler

Bringing her experience from front-of-the-house, back-of-the-house, and from farm-to-fryer, Alexa has been a professional eater and critic since 2002.Her best-selling restaurant guides – CheapEats Toronto and CheapEats Ottawa – have sold over 17,000 copies. Alexa founded the Secret Pickle Supper Club, one of Toronto’s first underground supper clubs. You can find Alexa writing about food; working to raise millions for hunger charities; working with Second Harvest on FoodRescue.ca; providing unflinching content strategy advice to food & tech brands; and judging culinary competitions across Canada.


Andrew Coppolino

Andrew Coppolino is a Kitchener-based writer and broadcaster. He holds a Master’s degree in English literature from the University of Waterloo and has taught at UW, the universities of Guelph, Toronto and Toledo, Conestoga College, and at the Stratford Chefs School. Coppolino has been restaurant reviewer and food writer with the Waterloo Region Record and Grand and Taste magazines. With Mark Morton, he is author of Cooking with Shakespeare (Greenwood Press) and has published in Whisky Magazine, Toronto Golf, Avenue Calgary, Restaurants Canada, Restaurant Report, Culinary Trends, Foodservice and Hospitality, Hotelier magazine and Canadian Gaming Business. He is food columnist with the Kitchener Post and CBC Radio Kitchener-Waterloo 89.1 FM. When he is not eating, Coppolino is a volunteer coach with the Kitchener Soccer Club.

Rita DeMontis
Lifestyle and Food Editor

Rita DeMontis is an award-winning writer who has been with the Toronto SUN newspaper for more than 36 years, where she currently resides as the resident local Lifestyle and Food editor as well as National Food Editor for the SUN MEDIA chain.
Rita’s also a regular on radio and television, including Newstalk 1010, CITY-TV’S Breakfast Television, Global TV, and CTV Canada AM. Rita has appeared on CityLine, Food Network and Restaurant Makeover and also hosted an 80-episode national cooking show called CUCINAetc. She has freelanced for several national magazines, including Canadian Living, and was voted one of 34 of the most influential Canadian women of Italian origin by the Italian Chamber of Commerce of Canada.


Gloria Duggan

Food is FUN! Gloria’s blog Homemade & Yummy is a place where she shows you how to create food your family will love. Whether she is creating recipes for her blog, or clients, Gloria loves working with new ingredients. Experimenting in the kitchen is her playground. As a brand influencer, her work has been published in magazines like the LCBO Food & Drink, and On The Go. She was also featured in Olympus Passion digital magazine in an article about food photography. She has been brand ambassador for several companies, and currently is partnered with Broil King creating recipes for their website. Gloria was asked to speak at a local high school to inspire students to “think out of the box” when it comes to working in the future.

Homemade & Yummy

Jason Kalinowski
Customer Solutions Manager, Gordon Food Service

Jason brings over 20 years of experience in the food service & hospitality industry. For the past 12 years, Jason has been an integral part of the Gordon Food Service Ontario team; first in Procurement, an influential Food Service Advisor and most recently as the Customer Solutions Manager where our team executes value add services and resources to aid in our customers success. Previously, he displayed his culinary talent in some of the top restaurants in Ontario and abroad in England. Jason specializes in all aspects of culinary trends and recipe development as well as food costing, menu engineering, menu design and layout.

Signe Langford
Chef, Writer

From Hudson, Quebec, now living in Port Hope, Ontario, Signe is a restaurant chef-turned-writer who tells award-winning stories and creates delicious recipes for such publications as: Harrowsmith – where she’s their food editor – LCBO’s Food & Drink magazine, Today’s Parent, Toronto Life, Hobby Farms, and of course, Marquee! She published her award-winning book – Happy Hens & Fresh Eggs; Keeping Chickens in the Kitchen Garden with 100 Recipes – in 2015. She studied Fine Art History and Humanities at the University of Toronto and York University; graduated with honours from OCAD University; and earned her Wine Specialist Certificate from George Brown College.


Jennifer McLagan
Chef, Author

Jennifer McLagan is the author of the widely acclaimed books Bones (2005), Fat (2008), Odd Bits (2011), Bitter (2014) and Les Os (2014). All her books made The New York Times list of top cookbooks and she has won four James Beard Awards.

Her book Bitter, was selected by The Guardian as one of the top ten food books, made the list for the Art of Eating prize, and was featured in the Wall Street Journal, New Scientist and British Vogue.
She has presented at the Oxford Symposium of Food, Adelaide Writers’ Week, Aspen Food & Wine Classic, Slow Food University in Italy, Melbourne Food & Wine Festival, Toronto Terroir Symposium, Saveur Stratford, Ontario, Dartmouth Food Festival, U.K, and Epicurean Classic in Michigan. She is a regular food expert on ABC Overnights with Trevor Chappell.

(photo credit ©Rob Fiocca)

Jason Parsons
Executive Chef of Peller Estates Winery Restaurant

As one of Canada’s prominent chefs, Chef Jason Parsons’ restaurant at Peller Estates Winery has gained recognition as being one of the definitive wine and food destinations in North America.

Chef Parsons’ career spans over three decades where he has worked in some of the world’s most celebrated restaurants; six Relais & Chateaux properties, two Michelin Star restaurants and numerous Leading Hotels of the World Destinations. He was part of the opening brigade at Langdon Hall Hotel and then headed overseas to the Chewton Glen, one of the top country house hotels in the world, and Cliveden one of Britain’s most luxurious hotels.

He has also held positions at Waterloo House in Bermuda and back in Canada at Hillebrand Winery Restaurant, Biff’s Restaurant and the Millcroft Inn.

In addition, Jason has completed stages with renowned chefs Charlie Trotter in Chicago, Albert Roux in Amsterdam, and Gordon Ramsay in New York City.

Jason has also become a familiar face in homes across Canada and America. For the past 15 years Jason has been a Guest Expert on the popular TV show Cityline with Tracy Moore, inspiring viewers to cook from the heart. This inspired Jason to co-author a collaborative cookbook “3 Chef: The Kitchen Men” with fellow chefs Massimo Capra and Michael Bononcini; which upon release won cookbook of the year.


Emily Richards
P.H.Ec., Television Personality, Author

Highly experienced and well-regarded Professional Home Economist, Emily Richards has an extensive know-how in the food industry which is strengthened with her Bachelor of Science, Home Economics specializing in Food and Nutrition from the University of Western Ontario and many years of experience in the food world.

Emily has authored and co-authored many cookbooks and continues to create recipes for notable magazines, newspapers and companies. Emily also appears across the web (and the country!) presenting recipes that are easy to prepare for busy families and enjoy together, always promoting her passion for food and inspiring people to get in their kitchens and cook!

Emily’s career has taken her from restaurant and hotel kitchens, Canadian Living Test Kitchen and Food Network cooking shows to media and TV celebrity chef. Throughout this time she has always stayed true to her love of good food and getting people interested in cooking and enjoying great flavours.


Fina Scroppo
Writer, editor and author of The Healthy Italian cookbook

Her passion for cooking, nutrition and healthy eating has been featured on numerous TV shows, radio programs, and in magazines and newspapers across the country. Over the past 20 years, she’s enjoyed working with some of the most successful cookbook authors, celebrity chefs, nutrition experts and media personalities to produce books and special-interest publications. She loves to inspire and motivate others to get into the kitchen and regularly hosts wellness cooking events as well as skills-based, hands-on cooking programs for youth.


Darin Whalen
Sobeys Field Merchandising

Darin currently works for Sobeys Field Merchandising, were he works closely with supply partners to help grow locally produced products in Ontario. This role puts Darin in contact with many different size of suppliers from large to just starting in retail. Darin has over 16 years of experience in the Food Industry which includes store management, meat department management and in a specialist role focusing on meat and seafood. In this training/development role included the training of meat cutters across the province as well as the development of a meat cutter training program.

Diamond Award

Introduced in 2015, this award is presented to the company whose product achieved the highest score across all categories in the competition.

Speducci Mercatto – Toronto, Wild Boar Prosciutto (2019)
Halenda’s Meats  – Oshawa, Double Smoked Bacon (2017)
Speducci Mercatto – Toronto, Paganelli’s Gentile Salami (2015)

Ron Usborne Award of Excellence

Introduced in 2007, this award is presented to the company achieving the highest combined score based on their product placements in the competition. Scores are calculated by assigning three points for each platinum placing entry, two points for gold, and one point for silver.

Halenda’s Fine Foods, Oshawa (2019)
VG Meats, Simcoe (2017)
Halenda’s Fine Foods, Oshawa (2015)
Halenda’s Fine Foods, Oshawa (2013)
Halenda’s Fine Foods, Oshawa (2011)
VG Meats, Simcoe (2009)
VG Meats, Simcoe (2007)

Watch the Judging from Previous Years