The roster of chefs included Stephanie Izard (Girl & the Goat), Carlos Gaytan (Mexique), Danny Grant (Ria and Balsan), Jason Vincent (Nightwood) and Mike Sheerin (Trenchermen and Three Floyds). Turning down this opportunity would be like snuffing the Oscars - if the actor were awarded pig statues and then took tequila shots out of a pig ice sculpture. The event also brings in culinary students for a whole animal butcher contest with Rob Levitt (The Butcher & Larder) as well as five American wineries.
Knowing all this, allow us to present to you the pig-haters guide to Cochon 555.
Like any culinary event with an abundance of different smells and tastes, the key is pacing. Usually food is brought out in stages, and here the chefs had created at least five different dishes including a dessert. After all of those bites were gone, Heritage BBQ - a new Cochon event happening on Labor Day and headed by chef Kevin Hickey (Allium) - brought out another pig cooked into carnitas, pork and kimchee stew, Kansas City style ribs and porchetta.
Don’t eat everything, but taste anything. To appreciate the creativity of each chef’s menu, it is advisable to taste but not feast on the dishes. Izard went with an upgraded fast food theme. Here dishes were presented at a booth reminiscent of a carnival, balloons and all. Items included her version of Starbucks made from smoked bone broth and topped with bone coffee cream and ham salt, Taco Bell represented with belly gorditas on naan and Wendy’s-inspired shoulder teenie weenies. Her offerings concluded with a Dairy Queen “bloody” blizzard with blood gelato and smoked fat Oreos.
Grant and Sherrin win points for using the most stomach churning pig parts. Sherrin served pig skin noodles with blood consommé, pig head tortellini with a pig heart “bottarga” and mortadella truffles topped with wild rice and preserved blood orange. Grants menu started with pig foot coated in foie gras and topped with English peas and ended with a cheery stout and pig blood pudding served with crispy pretzels.
Gaytan stuck with a Mexican menu with French influences. He served panza de porc, pickled pork loin roulade and bacon churros. Vincent took home the gold with his approach to brunch. His dishes included a bacon butterscotch donut with scrambled eggs and “hollanoink;” bloody Mary on the bone; and spit roasted loin with local giardiniera and aïoli on white bread.
Wash all of this pig down with some of the wine from the family-owned vineyards. Once again, it is about appreciation, not over-indulgence. We recommend you end your meal with a Pepto Bismol chaser, but this is optional. Despite our hesitations, we lived to tell the tale of Cochon 555. When we didn't think about what we were eating when the chef smiled and said it’s deep fried head cheese, it didn't taste that bad.