Our fantastic, new editorial assistant in the food department, Maggie Mariolis, recently learned some pork-cooking tips from Top Chef: All-Stars winner Richard Blais. Here, she reports:

Richard Blais, National Pork Board

© National Pork Board
Richard Blais plates a ham-and-herb schnitzel.

Richard Blais (sans liquid-nitrogen tank) enthused about pork's versatility as he seared, sauced and plated some delicious dishes at the Pork Inspiration Café, a one-day pop-up sponsored by the National Pork Board. Like my Tennessee-raised brother said, on a visit to a nude beach in Greece, "This is hawwwg heaven!" Blais' Ham & Herb Schnitzel with 6-Minute Egg (actually, six minutes and 37 seconds exactly, he joked) costarred sweet whipped maple syrup that was perfect with the crispy, breaded slice of ham and runny-yolked egg. For the pear puree that glazed his pork chop, he used the supersmart trick of swaddling the peeled pear in plastic wrap and popping it in the microwave to cook. The man knows what he's doing, and apparently so does the the National Pork Board, a marketing organization promoting US pork consumption, which used this event to kick off its new Pork Be Inspired campaign. For every dish served at the pop-up and every "Like" clicked on its Facebook page, the Pork Board donates one serving of pork to a local food bank. All of Blais' recipes are on, including the we're-not-messing-around-here Bacon Ice Cream.