Cochon 555 = Hog Heaven
I confess that, although I don’t necessarily eat meat every day and I even challenge myself with the occasional vegan recipe – there is one reason I could never be a vegetarian, much less a vegan (although we do love you guys).
Recently – this past Sunday, in fact – your Hedonista received a media invite to and attended a chef-winemaker-pig farmer event in which bacon – literally bouquets of bacon – were to be found on the tasting and dining tables. I was in hog heaven (literally).
The event? Cochon 555, which took place at The Westin Seattle on February 20th, 2011. This third annual event is a traveling, heritage breed pig culinary competition – not to mention tasting event. This friendly competition – currently the only one of its kind in the United States – featured five chef-lead teams that each prepared a 150-pound heritage breed hog from snout to toe. Guests and local judges determined a winner – the “Prince/Princess of Porc” – based on the following criteria: presentation, utilization, and overall best flavor. Five selected winemakers showcased their wines, which washed down the pork so very well. (The main takeaway of this event: be it red or white, sparkling or still, dry or sweet, every single wine goes with bacon. In fact, bacon, like chocolate, really goes with everything. Mmmm … chocolate-covered bacon. But I digress.)
Cochon 555: so-named because cochon is “pig” in French and the “555″ speaks to its feature of five chefs, five winemakers, and five 150-pound heritage hogs in this event’s tribute to heritage and heirloom breeds, their breeders, the chefs who prepare the pig, and the winemakers who pair the wines to go with the pork. Aside from fostering overall porcine bliss, its primary goal is: to encourage breed diversity; to promote the sustainable farming of heritage breed pigs by providing hard-working local farmers with the chance to connect with local agriculturalists, renowned chefs, and the pork-loving public; and to help these family farms sustain and expand their businesses. What’s more, a portion of last Sunday’s proceeds is earmarked to benefit the Neighborhood Farmers Market Alliance. Cochon 555 was founded by Brady Lowe, who is also the President and Creative Director of the Taste Network. Since its inception in 2009, Cochon 555 has donated over $30,000 to charity and provided an estimated over $75,000 in incremental revenue to farms. But back to Seattle.
Cochon 555 Seattle’s five chefs: Holly Smith of Café Juanita; Ethan Stowell of How to Cook a Wolf (among others in the Ethan Stowell Restaurants family empire); Jason Stratton of Spinasse; John Sundstrom of Lark; and Rachel Yang of Joule and Revel.
Cochon Seattle’s five pigs (and farmers): Hampshire from Jones Family Farm; Red Wattle from Mosaic Farm; Old Spot/Poland/Duroc from The Collective; Tamworth from Zorn Family Farm; and Berkshire from Newman Farm.
Note: Seattle is only one of ten cities in Cochon’s ten-city tour; the other cities are New York, Boston, Napa, D.C., Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, New Orleans, and San Francisco (for a list of the complete tour dates, click here). The winning chef of each region will compete at the tour’s finale Grand Cochon, to be held at the FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen on June 19, 2011. General admission was $125, with a VIP admission of $175, which included additional tastings from Domaine Serene as well as Oregon’s Chehalem, Washington’s McCrea Cellars and Buty Winery, as well as an artisan cheese table and sustainable oyster bar from Hama Hama Oyster Company of Lilliwaup, Washington.
Seattle’s winning chef was: John Sundstrom of Lark.
Congrats to John, our “Prince of Porc” – may he represent Seattle well in Aspen this June!
Now, please pass the bacon….