Pork, Pork, Women, and Pork at Cochon 555

The only thing that makes pork better is when you can get a sustainably raised, heritage bred pig, which is exactly what Brady Lowe, founder of Cochon 555, thinks. “Buying into heritage pork is synonymous with putting your money directly into the farmer’s pocket and creating a diversified landscape of flavor for the future, and that feels good to me,” he said. “The best part, heritage pork is not super expensive, it just takes time to find a local farmer, butcher shop or restaurant buying from these farms.”

Cochon 555 takes place on February 10th at Chelsea Piers, and there, you can see chefs showing off their skills at taking down a whole pig, and preparing a menu of pork-centric dishes for the audience. This is the fifth year they are doing it, but this time, the butcher block is made entirely of women, including Alex Guarnaschelli of Butter, Elizabeth Falkner from Krescendo, Leah Cohen of Pig and Khao, Shanna Pacifico of Back Forty West, and A Voce’s Missy Robbins.

“Five years ago it was hard to find five chefs taking in whole animals, or would stand behind their teams while they prepare a whole pig in competition for their peers,” said Lowe. “Now, look how far we’ve come, in one of the best culinary food cities in the world, an all-female cast can stand behind family farms, with their teams and turn out 36 amazing dishes of heritage pig for a good cause.”

Lowe dubbed the event 555 for, five chefs, five pigs, and five winemakers, which this year showcases Scholium Project, Elk Cove Vineyards, Greg Linn Wines, Turley Wine Cellars, and Buty Winery. Also, in honor of their fifth year anniversary, they are adding five bourbons to the list including Templeton Rye, Breckenridge Bourbon, High West, Four Roses, and my favorite, Buffalo Trace. In between sips, watch a butchering demonstration by Sara Bigelow from the Meat Hook, sample artisan cheese at the cheese bar, or root for your favorite bartender at their inaugural Punch Kings competition.

Of course, the focus is the pig, and bringing awareness the heritage breeds, of which there are about 30 (Lowe’s favorite is the Large Black), and this is just one of the 10 cities Lowe brings his snout-to-tail event to. “My goal is to provide choices to chefs and to diversify the pig landscape so life is more interesting for those of us who care,” said Lowe. “It’s important to let family farms know that we care about the choice to buy a better, more flavorful product, even if cost is higher.”

Kick Off 2013 With a Killer Meal

Sure, the holidays came and you ate, and drank, and ate again, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t indulge on the last night of 2012. What better way to go out with a bang, than with a feast to ring in the New Year. 

Celebrate with South American flare at La Mar Cebichería Peruana, where the swank Peruvian eatery hosts a New Year’s Eve pisco party. For $40, slug pisco sours from the open bar in the upstairs lounge from 7pm to 2am, and dance to the live DJ. If you want to go for a ceviche-laden, four-course dinner, $135 gets you that, and the open bar.

For a French-themed New Year’s, the West Village brasserie La Villette offers four-course ranging from $49 to $185, depending if you want the early dinner seating or the Champaign fueled 9pm seating. Either way, you get lobster and scallop tartare, foie gras terrine, house-made tagliatelle with truffles, and filet mignon. They have an all-night liquor license so the party doesn’t end until 8am.

You can also get French in Brooklyn at the Vinegar Hill House. There, $80 gets you a four-course meal with choices including blood sausage with apple, wild boar with chestnut puree, pear salad with truffle, and crepes. For $100, you can have a Champaign toast and late dinner—DUMBO style. 

Carnivores rejoice, at Back Forty West you can get a meat-laden table with four-courses done family-style for $75. Try the 12-hour smoked lamb shoulder, cowboy steak, and whole baked sea bass.

If Thai is how you want to ring in the New Year, Harold Dieterle’s Kin Shop has an $85, three-course tasting menu with options including seared diver sea scallops with Szechuan peppercorns, braised beef short ribs with curry, and butter poached lobster with kaffir lime buerre blanc. Drinks not included.

Starting at $95, you can dine on a six or eight-course Mexican tasting menu at Empellon Cocina. Feast on chef Alex Stupak’s smoked chicken with Earl Grey mayonnaise and caviar or wild Norwegian Steelhead trout with mezcal butter, and be glad you can celebrate the New Year every year, and not just when the Mayans calendar claims it’s an important date.

Finally, for some party with your dinner, Swine in the West Village is hosting a glam rock and hair metal bash from 10:30 to 2am. The party features an open bar with era-appropriate punches, hors d’oeuvres, and a buffet. Naturally, pork will be the main star of the menu.

New York Openings: Benares, Vucciria, Back Forty West

Benares (Midtown West) – Former Tamarind chef serving the flavors of Utter Pradesh.

Vucciria (Midtown West) – Southern Italian cooking, deep list of small-vineyard Italian wines.

Back Forty West (Soho) – Country-chic 1830s townhouse rocking both fireplace and smoker.