Top Colorado chefs competing in cook-off featuring pork from heritage pigs & wines to go with them
Area foodies are already salivating over Cochon 555, a national 10-city “eporkurean” tour in Denver next weekend. Five top Colorado chefs — Alex Seidel (Fruition), Kelly Liken (Restaurant Kelly Liken), Frank Bonnano (Luca D’Italia, Osteria Marco and others), Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson (Frasca Food & Wine) and Jennifer Jasinksi (Euclid Hall, Rioja and Bistro Vendome) — compete in a nose-to-tail cooking match-up — the carcasses, not the competitors, being nose to tail of course.
The chefs won’t be doing their own butchering. Two top local butchers will cut the meat in their own competition that, according to Marczyk Fine Foods’ Barbara Macfarlane, will be equal parts speed/efficiency/yield; knife handling and dexterity of roast tying; presentation of oven-ready retail cuts; and creativity and presentation. One is Jimmy Cross from Marczyk’s, but I don’t know who the other will be. (Note: On March 30, Westword‘s Lori Midson, who will be one of the judges, reported that Chris Fuller of Sunnyside Meats in Durango will be the other contender in the butcher battle.)
Among the expected judges are Mark DeNittis (Il Mondo Vechio), Jorge de la Torre (Johnson & Wales University), Jon Emanuel (Project Angel Heart), Justin Fields (Ritz-Cartlon Denver), Lori Midson (Westword restaurant editor/reporter), Hosea Rosenberg (Top Chef winner and strEATchefs), and Brent Zimmerman (master sommelier, Boulder Wine Merchant). The public will also vote for a people’s choice for the “Prince or Princess of Porc.”
The event brings together five chefs, five pigs and five wine makers to promote sustainable farming of heritage breed pigs. I’m not clear on whether all the pork comes from the same breed or different heritage pigs. It gives local farmers the opportunity to connect with like-minded agriculturalists, renowned chefs and the pork-loving public. The broader goal is to help family
farmers sustain and expand their businesses, to give chefs access to heritage breeds and to encourage breed diversity — and hopefully, humane animal practices.
Cochon 555 in Denver
If you want to watch, learn, sip and taste, plan on being at the Ritz-Carlton Denver this Sunday, April 3, beginning at 3:30 p.m. for VIP ticket holders ($175) and 5 p.m. for general admission ($125). Click here for tickets. And for a big of a preview, click here for a gallery of previous Cochon 555 events that have already taken place this year in New York, Boston, Washington, Napa Valley, Chicago and Seattle, with Los Angeles, New Orleans and San Francisco to come before the Grand Cochon finale at the Food and Wine Classic at Aspen on June 19, where the Denver winner will compete against the other regional winners.
What is food without wine? Not much, so small vineyards will also be pouring. General admission ticket holders also sample wines from Domaine Serene, Scholium Project, Elk Cove Vineyards, Failla Wines and Chase Family Cellars. VIP ticket holders start the celebration early with artisan cheeses, caviar and oysters and have the opportunity to enjoy reserve wines from Domaine Serene, Dobbes Family Estate Winery, Elk Cove Vineyards, Chase Family Cellars, Cimarrossa, Chahalem, Ladera Vineyards and K Vintners.
A Bit of Background
Cochon 555 is billed as the country’s only heritage breed pig culinary competition, put on by The Taste Network Founder Brady Lowe produces other high-end, publc and private events, primarily specialty pairings focused around wine, cheese and cuisine. The company said that it has donated over $30,000 to charity and put over $75,000 in incremental revenue in the hands of farmers.