Heritage Breed Pigs and Farmers Ruled at Cochon 555 Sunday
The series of hyper-local events support education, awareness and growth of family farms raising heritage breed pigs. Since its launch in 2009, Cochon 555 and its programs, such as Chef’s Course, have created a responsive movement nationwide with people who care about local food made by honest people. The tour has invested over 1 million in farms, culinary schools and charities across the country and they are only getting started. For more information about the cause, visit www.cochon555.com or follow the conversation @cochon555 on Twitter.
The event Sunday, was a competition among 5 chefs utilizing a heritage pig as many ways as they could think and accompanied by wine from Washington State wines, St Francis winery Sonoma and other beverages like Whistle Pig whisky (yes, I appreciate the rather appropriate name), a mezcal chupito bar(which ended up being the perfect after pork drink) and many other options. It was fun to see Farmer LouisJohn Slagel and his wife Leslie (they have a farm dinner coming up 5/23 with Nico Osteria) in the crowd and Ben the butcher from behind the counter at Publican Quality Meats. As much as the event was a pork and wine gorge-fest, the organizers through out the evening emphasized the relationship of farmer to animal to chef to plate on the table and what that means. Rob Levitt of Butcher and Larder held a pop-up butcher shop, the meat was then auctioned off for charity. The competition of King/Queen of pork was a tough one! This year’s competing chefs included Nathan Sears of The Radler, John Manion of La Sirena Clandestina, Chris Marchino of Spiaggia Restaurant & Lounge and Thomas Rice and Kurt Guzowski of TÊTE Charcuterie alongside the winner Nicole Pederson of Found Kitchen.
Chef Nicole won the event with a rare, but well-known breed of pig called the Hereford raised by Catalpa Grove. This breed originates from the U.S. beginning in the 1920’s and yields rich colored, marbled meat, which provided Chef Nicole ideal flavor for her winning menu of six uniquely created delicious bites. Dishes included Pork Au Feu Et Cou Farci, Pickled Pig Part Pani Puri Poppers( which were absolutely outstanding), Pork Loin Salad, Pork Belly Huaraches, Eastern Thai Style Rice Sausage(pictured above or at least what was left once she put out the plate) and a Smoked Lard Candy Bar (another standout for Nicole). Some of the crew of Found had returned from a trip to India so peacock feathers, papadum and spices were part of the mix on their table. Nicole will now move onto the finals at Aspen/Snowmass.
Every time I taste Chef Nathan Sears food, I love it and his plates at Cochon 555 reminded me that I need to get into the Radler soon!! It was fun to have the wine tables integrated among the chef tables because it made it easy to experiment with the different wine styles to create your own food pairings. Chef Andrew Zimmerman was plating beef tartar at his Tartar Bar. He and his crew made it look so easy despite the hoards of people in line waiting to try some. Each plate was beautiful. Each year this event gets more action packed so that there is always something new no matter what time you arrive. Whether you made it to Cochon 555 or you didn’t, the brand and concept continue to expand with more events, big and small, focusing on chefs and the farmer and their message of supporting the farmer and heritage breeds. The finals will take place in Aspen/Snowmass at The Grand Cochon 6/20/15 and stay tuned! They will be back in Chicago for their Heritage BBQ event on 9/6/15.