Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Cochon 555

250 Guests
300 Pounds of Pork
400 Bottles of Wine
100 Pounds of Cheese
20 Judges and Chocolate

Sound good?

Yeah, I thought so. That's the teaser they're using at the website for Cochon 555, an event that's being held this weekend (Sunday, May 24th) at the Drake Hotel to benefit and raise awareness for an organization called Farms for City Kids.

Basically, the deal is that each chef gets a 70 pound heritage pig and does a head-to-tail preparation. The lucky guests get to sample what the chefs come up with, wash it all down with wine from five family owned wineries, and then vote to determine which chef did the best job.

The event is being held in ten cities, and the ten winning chefs will then compete in a "Grand Cochon", from which will emerge, I presume, a grand champion, effectively, a King of Pork. Chicago is the seventh in this series of events. Past host cities included New York, Napa, and Des Moines, and the whole thing has gotten rave reviews online.

I'm going on Sunday (full disclosure--I'm attending on a press pass that was procured for me by the good folks at foodbuzz), and I can't wait. The chefs that will be representing Chicago are Graham Elliot Bowles of graham elliot, Sam Burman of bluprint, Patrick Sheerin of The Signature Room at the 95th, Stephen Dunne of The Paramount Room/VOLO, and Chris Pandel of The Bristol. Very promising.

Some of the chefs I'm already familiar with--look for something with pop rocks or corn nuts from Bowles and probably something rustic like belly confit or shank from Pandel--but the others will be new to me, so I'm very much looking forward to seeing what these guys choose to do with their pigs. Chefs love challenges like this, where they're given a beautiful heritage animal (heritage breeds usually have more flavor and fat than those used in by the big, conventional producers) and are charged with featuring all the cuts, so as to really showcase the wonderful and varied preparations that are employed in using a whole animal and trying to honor it by wasting nothing.

Tickets, I believe, are still available for this great event. You can click through their website to find out. It promises to be spectacular eating, drinking, and people-watching, the Drake is a fabulously posh Chicago institution, and the whole thing raises awareness for a great cause.

Hope to see you there!

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