The most dynamic culinary festival in North America is back on the road with its national nose-to-tail pig cooking tour. Cochon555
brings its 2017 edition – which will hit some 16 cities – to Houston on May 21st
, and the focus of the festivities will be culinary community and education. From bartenders and distillers to chefs and barkeeps, some of the city’s most celebrated hospitality talents will take guests on a journey that’s equally dedicated to safe foodways, deliciousness, and whole-hog cookery. To further champion the good food movement, a portion of all proceeds goes to Cochon555’s sister charity, Piggy Bank.
At the heart of all Cochon555 events lies a culinary competition to promote local family farming and global traditions. Five local chefs are each given one whole, heritage breed pig and one week to prepare the whole animal of 200 pounds. Each chef must present a “Judge’s Plate” of 6 dishes scored on utilization; cooking techniques; and overall flavor. A panel of 20 notable judges selects a winner, who will then be crowned Houston’s “Prince or Princess of Porc.” Running in tandem with the main cook-off are the Somm Smackdown (sommeliers facing off for the best pig/wine match) and Punch Kings featuring Breckenridge Distillery (barkeeps battling in whole-bottle competition). The winners of all events will be flown to Chicago to compete in the winner-takes-all finale, Grand Cochon, to be held this year on October 1.
Beyond the 30 chef-competitor dishes – all told, 1,500-plus pounds of heritage pork raised on family farms – guests can also nosh on dozens of innovative preparations from some of the most critically-acclaimed kitchens in Houston. Other spreads on offer include a delectable dessert bar featuring Perfect Puree of Napa Valley; a pop-up bakery with artisan breads from La Brea Bakery; the Creminelli Salami Snack Bar with Divina; a Farmstead Cheese Table spotlighting artisan cheeses and pate; a Luxury Butter Bar; a pop-up ramen bar paired with racy wines from Twomey and Silver Oak Cellars; and a beef tartare tasting featuring the wines of Antica Napa Valley.
Cochon555 events are also theaters for innovative spirit, wine, and cocktail
experiences. Libations include inventive cocktails inside the Glenfiddich Experimental Dome, the House of Angostura Swizzle Bar; a Smoked Old Fashioned with Breckenridge
Bourbon; a signature Cognac cocktail from Courvoisier; the Manhattan Project presented by Poached Jobs featuring High West, Eagle Rare and Buffalo Trace bourbons; the Tiki Bar; the Welcome Lounge featuring Buffalo Trace and DRY Sparkling and our Heritage Rum Cart spotlighting an aged rum collection.
Looking back on the 2016 event in Houston, Chef Justin Yu of Oxheart Restaurant won with a Iberico breed of pig raised by Acorn Seekers. This breed originates from the Iberian Peninsula and is known for roaming pastures while snacking on acorns. Iberico pork is highly micro-marbled with large fat caps, which worked in tandem with Chef Justin’swinning menu of five uniquely created delicious bites. Dishes included Reppin’ Morningstar Doughboi’s Doughnut Holes: chocolate ganache, and pig blood; Chinese Soft Bread, whipped fat, fried pork sung, and onion crunchy bits, using fat leaf lard, head, and shanks; Dan Dan Noodles: triple happiness broth, poached belly, and fermented/crunchy stuff, using picnic shoulder, shoulder butt, belly, bones, and hocks; Red Oil Dumplings: dirty rice-ish pork stuffing, Super Special! A-OK! chili oil, using ham and offal; Tortilla Espanola con Puerco: roast pork, and oyster sauce with Dragon’s Breath sauce, using collar, tenderloin, and loin; and to close, a Supercool #1 Hot Dog: Nam-style fermented frank, shrimp mayonnaise. and pickle-y bits.
The ultimate aim of Cochon555 is to give chefs and consumers something they can sink their teeth into: honest food from real farmers with the goal of a sustainable and profitable relationship for all. Placing the spotlight on heritage breed pigs themselves, each event features a Pop-Up Butcher Demo and Auction, with gifts from Williams-Sonoma and John Boos & Co., which benefits Piggy Bank, a farm devoted to providing free heritage breed pigs to small farms in exchange for transparent business plans that are posted online.
“We’re incredibly excited toreturn to Houstonduring our 2017 tour,” says Cochon555 founder Brady Lowe. “This event combines education and innovation in support of a return to heritage breed and family farming. The impact is local, but it is also about the future – we want our children to be able to enjoy safer, more honest, and delicious food for years to come,“ continues Lowe. “It’s only a matter of time until people demand better food choices when cooking or eating dinner. And we are standing right there with them, championing transparent foodways and a commitment to what’s local and responsible.”
Tickets for general admission start at $125; VIP tickets (early admission + exclusive sommelier and cocktail competition tastings) are $200; and only 12 available BESPOKE tickets $400 (includes 5-course, private Saturday, May 20
charity dinner; behind-the-scenes tour 30 minutes before all other guests + exclusive private tastings; tour of Somm-Selected wines and competing chef tasting; a q-and-a with a Cochon555 director on Sunday
; and a donation to Piggy Bank charity). To purchase tickets, visit the website: http://cochon555.com/2017-tour/houston/
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 the world’s first nose-to-tail pig cooking competition. This epic pork feast visits 20 major cities in North America annually and stages over 60 events. The tour is comprised of an array of live expressions including Heritage Fire (live-fire cooking in mountainside and vineyard settings) and Heritage BBQ (global grilling traditions). All Cochon555 events cultivate a long-term impact for heritage species raised by family farms, in top culinary markets in North America. Both educational and inspirational messages are circulated among 16,000 guests; 2,200+ chefs; 150+ family farms; and 16 culinary schools. Since 2009, 50,000+ consumers have experienced heritage pork, more than $500,000 has been donated to charities, and over $750,000 has been paid directly to our farmers. For more details and videos of events, visit www.cochon555.com
or follow @cochon555 on Twitter and Instagram.
About Piggy Bank:
Launched in 2015 by Brady Lowe – founder of the Cochon555 US Tour and Taste Network – Piggy Bank is a pig farming sanctuary. Harboring a Noah’s Ark-worthy selection of heritage breeds, it provides free genetics and business plans 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 benefit from the sharing of genetics, livestock, and the very information needed to not just survive, but to thrive as small businesses. The Piggy Bank farm, located in Missouri, raises pigs to be gifted to communities dedicated to elevating the cause and expanding through a model of social and agricultural transparency. Piggy Bank is a nonprofit corporation with federal tax exempt status as a public charity under Section 501(c)(3). Follow the Piggy Bank conversation on Twitter @PiggyBankOrg. For more information, watch the videohttp://j.mp/PIGGY_BANK or visitwww.piggy-bank.org.