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February 13, 2013

Cochon 555 Gets Cooking

By Ingrid Skjong | Food

Cochon 555 Gets Cooking
Galdones Photography

It seems that the pig is destined to take top billing in culinary circles for a long time to come. And Cochon 555—a ten-city-tour cooking competition set on spreading the gospel of sustainable production and heritage pigs—is out to prove it, stopping in Atlanta on February 17 before continuing to the likes of the Four Seasons Resort Vail (March 10), Washington, D.C. (April 7) and the House of Blues in Los Angeles (May 5). The journey ends at the Grand Cochon, held at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen on June 16.

“Pigs are the most magical animals in the world,” says founder Brady Lowe. “They are a canvas of flavor for chefs, and consumers are learning about the benefits of heritage breeds and how to find them and cook them at home.”

The competition is fierce; judges score on flavor, utilization and presentation. Fifty chefs throughout the tour will create a snout-to-tail feast (butchering included) using heritage pigs such as the Tamworth, Red Wattle and Mulefoot. Guests taste it all (including wines from family wineries), judges weigh in and ten finalists meet in Aspen for the finale.

Lowe has seen just about everything in the competition’s five years. “Pork-eos,” sandwich cookies filled with lard by chef David Varley of the Michael Mina Group, have crossed his path, as has a whole roasted pig stuffed with $10,000 worth of truffles. And while this year’s creations are sure to impress, his main objective is simple. “To get everyone to put heritage pork in their mouth,” he explains. “Once they do, it’s a game changer—it’s like trying chocolate cake for the first time.” Tickets, $125 (general admission) and $200 (VIP); cochon555.com.