One of my favorite annual culinary events is an epic competition called Cochon555. The event features five chefs cooking five heritage-breed pigs, five winemakers, five sommeliers, five mixologists and a host of other exciting pork-centric surprises. On April 23, the event moves back to Morgan Manufacturing – my favorite of all the venues they have used over the years in Chicago.
Last year’s winner was Chef Sarah Grueneberg of Monteverde. She will join a panel of celebrity judges to pick this year’s winner from the following impressive list of competitors:
- Ricard Jarquin – Travelle Kitchen & Bar
- John Manion – El Che Bar
- Nathan Sears – The Wit Hotel Chicago
- Tom Carlin – Publican Quality Meats
- Pete Coenen – Cherry Circle Room
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 Chicago’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 Chicago. 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.
Tickets for general admission start at $125; VIP tickets (early admission + exclusive sommelier and cocktail competition tastings) are $200; and BESPOKE tickets $400 (includes super early admission + exclusive
private tasting and tour of Somm-Selected wines and the Barkeep competition by a Cochon555 director on Sunday; and a donation to Piggy Bank charity). To purchase tickets, visit the website: http://cochon555.com/2017-tour/chicago/
- Where: Morgan Manufacturing, 401 N Morgan St, Chicago, IL 60642
- When: Sunday, April 23, 2017
- Time: 4 p.m. for VIP entry, 5 p.m. for General Admission