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.”

Hogging the Spotlight: The Cosmopolitan’s Summer Festival of Pork

No hotel in Las Vegas is bringing the proverbial heat quite like the Cosmopolitan this summer. Their club Marquee is luring the biggest names in dance music on a near-nightly basis, and they’ve even secured Adele to drop by next month for an intimate gig. But the hotel offers a lot more than pop icons and DJs. Later this month, the Cosmopolitan will host the rock stars of the food world at a new event, the inaugural All-Star Cochon.

On July 24, chefs such as Mark Ladner of Del Posto, Amelia Posada and Erika Nakamura of Lindy & Grundy, Michael Sullivan of Blackberry Farm, John Sundstrom of Lark, Andy Ricker of Pok Pok, Jeremy Fox and the 2010 “King of Porc” David Varley of Michael Mina, Alex Seidel of Fruition, and Stephanie Izard of The Girl & the Goat will descend upon the Strip’s hottest hotel to cook up all things pig.

As part of the three-year-old Cochon 555 competition, the chefs will dream up new ways to roast, chop, broil, and fry the swine in ways previously unknown to man. Not only will chefs fly in from all over the U.S., but the Cosmopolitan’s own dream team of pork participants will be in the mix as well. That means kitchen pros from restaurants such as Comme Ça, D.O.C.G, Estiatorio Milos, Holstein’s, Jaleo, STK, Scarpetta and more. While the series has toured before nationally, the July 24th event at the Cosmo is the first ever “all-star” event, with acclaimed butchers and 14 whole heritage hogs. Naturally, packages are available for those looking to pig out later this month, many of which also include special tastings of Domaine Serene reserve wines paired with Spanish pork variety Fermin Iberico de Bellota.

Watch a trailer for Cochon 555 to get a sense of why hogs have been all the rage recently.