Prairie Meadows – Chef Jeff Snowgren

Prairie Meadows is the seventh location that I’m judging food at for the 2015 Dine Iowa Grand Tasting Gala event.

This is my second year of judging for this event.

Chef Robert Anderson and I are the main judges. It is a privilege to get to work with him, the IRA staff, and members from both the Soy and BeefCouncils.

During the next couple of weeks, leading up to the September 24th event, we have 7 different restaurants to visit. These restaurants are all across Iowa. 

Prairie Meadows

Prairie Meadows is located in Altoona, Iowa. There are several places to eat at in the casino. There is the Triple Crown Eatery, Cafe at the Meadows, Champions Clubhouse, and last but not least AJ’s Steakhouse. Aj’s is where we had the meal. It’s a fancier dining experience but definitely one to remember. 

The Chef at Prairie Meadows

Chef Jeff Snowgren is the chef competing. He was assisted by Chef Patricia Weidner, Chef Agustin Quintana and Chef Eric McDowell. 

Since this contest is about the chef and their skills, I wanted to focus on them a little more by asking some questions. Here are 7 questions with Chef Jeff:

  1. How Many Years Have You Been A Chef?
    I have been in kitchens cooking for over twenty years but as a chef for 13 years.
  2. Where did you learn to become a chef?
    School of Hard Knocks; I have paid my dues working my way through the ranks throughout the years. I have been mentored by many fine chefs, too. 
  3. Do you have a chef that you look up to?
    I enjoy watching Chef Gordon Ramsey and Chef Mario Batali.
  4. The best thing about being a chef is __________.
    Seeing people enjoy what you have prepared for them.
  5. The best playlist for cooking has to include?
    My choice is probably inappropriate. 
  6. What’s your favorite thing to cook outside of “the office”?
    Smoked meats.

  7. What or who inspired you to become a chef?
    I started working in kitchens as a teen and it just evolved from there.


The Meal

Rules: With this event, each competitor will prepare a main entrée recipe utilizing Braveheart Black Angus Beef Top Sirloin, donated byPerformance Food Group (at least six ounces of cooked beef must be used). Additionally, each competitor will prepare a Tofu (soft-silken or water packed) side dish or sauce (at least a 1⁄4 cup of tofu must be used).

Main Dish

Chef Jeff created a wonderful menu for us.  

For starters, a marinated, wok fried, tofu and roasted edamame salad was presented to us. It also featured fresh arugula with a citrus Asian vinaigrette.

2015-09-22 12.12.24


Then the main entree was brought out – which you’ll get to sample at the event. Chef marinated the top sirloin and tofu gnocchi in a star anise infused savory broth with trumpet royal mushrooms, braised swiss chard and grilled broccolini. There was also a crispy tofu lobster wonton on top of the dish. 

2015-09-22 12.27.26


2015-09-22 12.27.56



To finish the meal, a tofu goat cheese flan and banana tofu fritter with lime sea salt caramel was placed in front of us. Both desserts were outstanding and something that I would order in a heartbeat if I were to see these two items on a menu. 


2015-09-22 12.48.26



Chef Jeff displayed a wonderful plate. He should be proud of his presentation.

Contact Prairie Meadows

1 Prairie Meadows Drive, Altoona, IA

Phone: (712) 328-8888

I’m so excited for the final event – the Grand Tasting Gala. It’s your turn to enjoy the meals I have been able to write about. Get your tickets today.

2015 Grand Tasting Gala Website banner

About Nick Lucs

Nick is the founder of Des Moines Foodster. He was born and raised in Des Moines and has always had a passion for being creative in the kitchen. Des Moines Foodster has appeared in Travel + Leisure, Juice Magazine, amNY, Travel Iowa and the Greater Des Moines Convention & Visitors Bureau blog. He believes that coffee and craft beer make the world go 'round .

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *