Cochon 555 asks one simple question: What can you, talented and slightly insane chef, do with an entire heritage-breed pig? The answer has been answered loudly via a 10-city competition that sent Red Wattle and Berkshire pigs to kitchens across the country.
At each of the stops, five chefs were given the pig and asked to create five courses that best reflect their style — and implements the concept of nose-to-tail cookery. At the festive gatherings, creativity flows almost as freely as bourbon. The winner doesn’t just win a pig trophy (natch), but an invitation to compete in Sunday's Grand Cochon Final in Aspen. (I once served as a judge and it was pretty epic.)
Last year, Jamie Bissonnette (of Coppa and Toro in Boston) was inspired by a three-week trip to Vietnam and served lemongrass sausage, coconut red curried pig skin with a pork rillettes “sung” dotted with red curry pork fat mayo. Scott Drewno (of The Source in Washington, D.C.) served pig head curry and a lettuce cup with char siu and a fried rice salad atop a homemade (and hand-carved) wooden platter.
“I've got a knack for finding out who's buying whole pig and mentioning farmers and heritage species on menus,” says Brady Lowe, the tireless mastermind of this porcine exhibition (read our interview). Yesterday we reached out him to find out what the finalists were preparing. In the spirit of fairness, we agreed to select a single dish from each of the chefs. Well, nine. Missy Robbins is keeping things close to the chest.
Seattle: Jason Franey | Canlis
Blood pot de creme, apple espuma, bacon brittle, cinnamon macaroon
Boston: Michael Scelfo | Alden And Harlow
Parker House bahn mi: umami terrine, chili and fermented bean aioli, shaved loin, whipped pig fat
Washington D.C.: Mike Isabella | Graffiato
Pork fat arancini
Atlanta: Ryan Smith | Empire State South
Bologna soup dumplings, bread and butter pickles, yellow mustard
Chicago: Cosmo Goss | Publican Quality Meats
Churros & chocolate: pork skin 'churros' and pork jus chocolate caramel
Los Angeles: Ray Garcia | Fig
Pork ice cream with organ syrup and head cheese brittle
Vail: Jason Harrison | Flame
Mule foot rilette, summer salad with crispy tail, ears and trotters
San Francisco: Adam Sobel | rn74
Fat back mapo tofu: Spicy braised pig's head, crispy ears, chili oil, Szechuan pepper
Miami: Aaron Brooks | Edge
Porchetta sandwich: shaved foot, house pickles, liver spread, fragrant herbs, Habanero jelly
Read more about Cochon 555 on Food Republic: