The regional culinary competition Cochon555 was hosted at the Hilton Hotel in Chicago yesterday! The ultimate aim of Cochon555 is to provide education to chefs/consumers and to create experiences that guests can sink their teeth into: Honest food from real farmers. Five All-Star chefs from across the city cooked one whole heritage breed pig raised by a family farm. One week before the event, each chef received a 200-pound heritage pig sustainably sourced from 1936 Meadowbrook Farm, 3 Winds Farm, Catalpa Grove Farm, Meadowlark Farm, and Faith’s Farm, Inc. to create a maximum of 6 dishes for the competition. To win the friendly competition for a cause the chef’s menu had to woo twenty celebrity judges (such as John Manion, Greg Laketek, Kat Levitt, Jason Vincent, well-known Emcee Billy Harris, as well as our headline all-star butcher, Rob Levitt of The Butcher & Larder) with their “Judge’s Plate’ scored on utilization; technique; and overall flavor and be voted “best bite of the day” by attendees.
“We’re incredibly excited to return to Chicago during our 2018 tour,” says Cochon555 founder Brady Lowe. “The tour is about uplifting small, family farmers through epic culinary moments. We create and restore connections between the farmer and chef who want to raise, source and serve food raised with purpose and passion. Together, through eating, we become stewards of the good food movement, motivating change and celebrating ‘landscapers’ who lead us to a safer and more delicious future.”
The competing chef’s this year were: Mario Garcia of Kitty O’Sheas, Cory Morris of Boleo at the Kimpton Gray Hotel, Ryan Burns of The Blanchard, Andres Padilla of Topolobampo, and Carlos Gaytan of Mexique. The Chicago 2018 “Prince of Pork” winner was my favorite… Cory Morris from Boleo!!!. He will now advance to the national finale, Grand Cochon, a head-to-tail, winner-takes-ALL showdown for the crown in Chicago September 30th. The crowned Chef will win an amazing 4-day wine and gastronomy experience in Roja, Spain’s most prominent wine region. Check out some of the yummy bites we had below.
Running in tandem with the tour was a pair of internal beverage competitions. Punch Kings. Punch Kings featured five of the city’s top barkeeps facing off in a whole-bottle punch bowl competition, challenging them to each make a large-format communal libation prepared with Breckenridge Bourbon. Boleo kept the winning streak running and also placed numero uno in this category.
Cochon555 also challenged five celebrated sommeliers in the third annual “Somm Smackdown” to use every bit of their accumulated knowledge and inspiration to find the best wine to pair with the dishes prepared by competing chefs. This year’s somms include Rachel Driver-Spekan of City Winery, Sian Ferguson of Alinea, Jenni Wagoner of Sepia, Jessica Altieri of Wine Channel TV Network and Cassandra Sakai of Girl & The Goat.
Dishes for the competition are just the beginning — all in, we’re talking about 1,500 pounds of responsibly raised heritage breed pork – guests will also enjoy innovative preparations and cocktails from some of the most critically-acclaimed kitchens and bars in Chicago. The Welcome Lounge ushers guests in to the Buffalo Trace Punch Bar and Signature Starter Bar featuring organic pâtés and mousses from Les Trois Petits Cochons, and Cheese Experience spotlighting Cello, Yellow Door Creamery, Cypress Grove and Pastoral Artisan Cheese. Sip sparklers from Topo Chico and experience neat tastings from Woodford Reserve and The Manhattan Project featuring Buffalo Trace, Eagle Rare, Woodford Reserve Double Oaked and Breckenridge PX Cask Finish topped with Luxardo Cherries. Experience innovative cocktails from Courvoisier, Effen Vodka, Monkey 47 Gin and a Perfect Margarita presented by El Tesoro Tequila. Learn about pairings at the TarTare Bar aligned to the wines of Antica Napa Valley, a “Taste the City” culinary spotlight featuring the racy portfolio of Wines of Germany, an array of wines from Rioja, Spain’s most prominent wine region, and grouped under the “5 Winemakers” banner; Silver Oak, Pax Wine Cellars, Sandhi, Kosta Browne and Twomey Cellars. Cochon555 will debut a new experience called Trompo “Hora de Familia” in celebration of its first Global Cochon555 event in Mexico City later this year. Guests wanting a sweet bite will enjoy Swine and Sweets, an innovative spin on dessert spotlighting notable pastry chefs working with Perfect Puree of Napa Valley.
What a great event! Placing the spotlight on “knowing where your food comes from”, each event features an educational whole animal butchery program called the Pop-Up Butcher Shop and Silent Auction to benefit charity. This year’s headlining all-star butcher is Rob Levitt of Butcher & Larder. Together with gifts from chefs, sponsors and John Boos & Co., they will raise money to benefit Piggy Bank, a start-up farm in Missouri that serves as a kickstarter for new family farms and a safety net for those in the wake of a disaster (flood, fire and disease). As an accelerator, Piggy Bank supplies piglets to small farms in exchange for business plans that are posted online in the name of transparent “open-source agriculture”.
About the Cochon555 US Tour
The Cochon555 US Tour executes a yearly host of authentic, hyper-local food events focused on raising awareness for heritage breed pigs through an innovative nose-to-tail pig cooking competition. This epic pork feast visits 15 major cities in North America annually. The tour is comprised of an array of live expressions and cultivates a long-term impact for heritage species. Both educational and inspirational messages are circulated among 16,000 guests; 2,200+ chefs; 150+ family farms; and culinary schools each year. Since 2009, 108,000+ consumers have experienced heritage pork for the first time, more than $1,100,000 has been donated to charities, and over $1,200,000 has been paid directly to our farmers. For more information, visit www.cochon555.com or follow @cochon555 on Twitter and Instagram.
About Piggy Bank
Launched in 2015, Piggy Bank is creating a farming sanctuary for heritage breed pigs, many of which are endangered. Piggy Bank will provide genetics and access to shared business plans for raising heritage pigs to emerging family farms. Piggy Bank aims to change the future of food by creating a community in which small farmers can learn about safer, more responsible practices and share genetics, livestock, and the very information needed to thrive as small businesses. Piggy Bank is building a model of socially responsible agricultural transparency. Piggy Bank proudly operates as a project of the Trust for Conservation Innovation, a 501(c)3 tax-exempt nonprofit organization which accelerates impact for initiatives focused on protecting and fostering a healthy, sustainable, resilient, and equitable world. For more information or to donate, visit www.piggy-bank.org or follow @PiggyBankOrg on Twitter. Watch the video http://j.mp/PIGGY_BANK.
About Hilton Chicago
Conveniently located on Michigan Avenue across from Grant Park, the iconic Hilton Chicago combines a contemporary design with an exciting atmosphere. The newly renovated 1,544 guestroom hotel boasts more than 234,000 sq. ft. of meetings space and can accommodate large conferences and conventions, smaller meetings and elegant banquets. Additional amenities include an indoor running track, large fitness center, indoor pool as well as dining options including 720 South Bar & Grill, Kitty O’Sheas Irish Pub, and Herb N’ Kitchen. www.hiltonchicagohotel.com
Mark your calendars for this awesome event next year!
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