Give a pig rock star status and you’ve got Cochon 555, the four-year-old culinary tour where five chefs from five cities compete by making dishes from five heritage pigs.
Cochon 555’s fifth stop this year was San Francisco, specifically at the Fairmont Hotel last night. I’d never been to one of Cochon 555’s event, but luckily was invited as a guest to the San Francisco event.
San Francisco was well represented by the city’s own rock star chefs competing for the chance to battle the four other Cochon winners from previous cities at the upcoming Aspen Food and Wine Festival. Battling locally last night were Traci des Jardins of Jardiniere (and a seasoned competitor in “Top Chef Masters” and “Iron Chef America”), Nicolas Borzee of Bouche, Anthony Strong of Locanda, Jason Fox of Commonwealth, and tag-team Thomas McNaughton (of Flour + Water) and Matt Sigler (of the new Central Kitchen) representing the yet-to-open Salumeria.
Each chef were given a heritage pig and had a week to create dishes using every part of the pig. At last night’s event, the chefs offered between five to six tasting dishes. There were cracklins, chicharones, pork belly, pork loin, as well as dishes using kidneys, hearts, and blood sausage.
A judging panel tasted the offerings prior to the event opening to the public, and the judges included farmers, chefs, and media representatives. Their votes counted for 49 percent. The paid public came in later, tasting the various offerings along with wine from five local wineries, and they voted for their favorite dishes, making up 51 percent of the vote.
At the end of the night, the team of Chefs McNaughton and Sigler were named the winners of the San Francisco Cochon 555 and will compete in the grand prix in Aspen. As for me, I busted my cholesterol-reducing diet of vegetables and fish as I munched on pork belly coated in chocolate caramel and bacon. But it was well worth it.
There’s a lot more to see from the event, so I’ve pulled them all into the slideshow below. As always, you can find this slideshow and more in my Exhibits section.
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