Anyone who follows my postings here on The Local Tourist will know that my hands-down favorite culinary event each year is an epic pork-fest called Cochon 555. This year, the amazing event returns to Chicago for a seventh visit on Sunday, April 26 – bigger and better than ever. The event also moves to an exciting new location, Morgan Manufacturing located at 401 North Morgan in the Fulton Market District.
If you are down for heritage farming and roller-coasters of flavor; if you’re excited by a culinary competition; or if you just love to eat pork, clear your weekend calendar. Cochon 555, the country’s most talked about culinary competition arrives in Chicago with an epic 3-day feast showcasing the best bites, chefs and who’s who of the good food movement. The goal, to celebrate family farms, heritage breed pigs and tilt the scales to favor today’s emerging chef community struggling to pay premium prices for safer, more flavorful food raised by real farmers.
Sunday, April 26, is the main event, Cochon 555, which features five chefs cooking five pigs in a friendly competition. This year’s competing chefs include:
Nicole Pederson of Found Kitchen
John Manion of La Sirena Clandestina
Chris Marchino of Spiaggia Restaurant & Lounge
Thomas Rice and Kurt Guzowski of TÊTE Charcuterie
The five chefs, champions of whole hog utilization, will prepare a maximum of six dishes with hopes to win votes from a crowd of hungry gourmands and celebrated judges. They will be preparing heritage breed pigs raised on local farms including Faith’s Farm, Inc., Triple S Farms, Catalpa Grove, LaPryor Farms and Slagel Family Farm.
Tickets are $125 for General Admission (entry at 5 p.m.) and $200 for VIP Admission (entry at 4 p.m.). Both ticket levels include endless food and drink options. Specifically, general admission offers over 36 dishes prepared from nose to tail, paired with wines, brews and spirits. VIP grants one hour early access to food, drink and an opportunity to mingle with notable chefs, judges and media.
You can purchase tickets at www.cochon555.com.
There are also two other special events preceding Sunday’s ‘main event.’
The weekend kicks-off on Friday, April 24, with the Chef’s Course Dinner hosted at Nico Osteria and paired with the amazing Washington State Wines. Chef Erling Wu-Bower welcomes guest chefs, Jason Hammel, Gene Kato, Abe Conlon, Matthias Merges and Amanda Rockman and COCHON 555 founder, Brady Lowe for a seated five-course dinner. The three-hour culinary experience includes thoughtful chef introductions of each course ($150 all-inclusive) as they work together to prepare this special, one-night-only epicurean feast, emphasizing high-quality, local ingredients and responsible agriculture.
Saturday, April 25 spotlights Cochon 555’s “Large Format Feast,” ($110 all-inclusive) a four-course meat feast hosted at TÊTE Charcuterie with Thomas Rice and Kurt Guzowski. The preview dinner, featuring St. Francis Winery, Anchor Distilling and Prosciutto di Parma, will celebrate family-raised beef and Duroc pork from Creekstone Farms. This epic “Big Beef vs. Heritage Pig” dinner series features notable chefs who are reinventing the traditional steakhouse experience to spotlight the growing popularity of heritage pork on steakhouse menus, ultimately setting course for a safer food system.
Going on its seventh year, Cochon 555 is regarded as the nation’s most flavorful culinary tour. This year’s judges, led by Chicago’s 2014 “Prince of Porc”, Tim Graham of Travelle, who will be joined by several others including, Carlos Gaytan of Mexique, Andrew Zimmerman of Sepia, and past Chicago champion and 2012 “King of Porc, Jason Vincent, will help select Chicago’s “Prince or Princess of Porc.” The winner goes on to compete for the title of “King or Queen of Porc” at the tour finale, Grand Cochon at Snowmass/Aspen in June. The grand champion will be rewarded with a 4-day wine experience in Rioja, Spain’s most prominent wine region. And, new in 2015, the winner’s kitchen countertops will be resurfaced with Wilsonart® Quartz decorative surfacing, a remarkable, beautifully engineered stone material from America’s countertop leader.
For more information, visit www.cochon555.com.