Thursday, August 23, 2012

Cochon 555 Tour Hits Memphis Over Labor Day Weekend

Posted By on Thu, Aug 23, 2012 at 10:46 AM

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Cochon 555 is the brainchild of Brady Lowe, who in 2009 created a competition to feature and educate consumers about heritage breeds of pigs. The competition tours the country pitting chefs against each other to create a series of dishes that utilize and feature all parts of heritage whole hogs. It's sort of a porcine version of a Bocuse d'Or for the piggy set as chefs create beautiful, elaborate dishes, which are judged by a professional panel and sampled by attendees who circulate between the chefs' tables enjoying wine and cocktails as they watch the chefs work.

Next week over Labor Day weekend, the party bus is stopping in Memphis for a special edition of the competition: Cochon Heritage BBQ. In concert with a celebration of the beginning of National Bourbon Month, on Friday, Aug. 31, they'll also be hosting a high-end Distillers’ Reception at The Peabody Memphis Hotel from 7:30 to 10 p.m. Guests will mix and mingle with the luminaries of the bourbon world while sampling some of their highest-end hooch.

Other ancillary events over the weekend include a 5.55K run, a Bloody Mary tailgate party and various parties and receptions all weekend, sponsored by food purveyors and media outlets. The main event comes on Sunday, though, as 10 teams of chefs will work to convert more than 3,000 pounds of heritage hogs into some amazing barbecue to feed 800 hungry guests. The teams will prepare six-course menus featuring a snout-to-tail presentation of four main dishes and two side items.

Here's the list of competing chefs:

Joshua Adams, June Restaurant, Peoria, Il.
Harrison Keevi, Brookville Restaurant, Charlottesville, Va.
Will Cisa and Jeff Bolton, Sage Hospitality Group, Denver
Craig Bell, Sub-Zero and Wolf Appliances, Chicago
Ryan Trimm, Sweet Grass, Memphis
Andrew Ticer and Michael Hudman, Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen, Memphis
Todd Mussman, Local Three, Muss & Turners, Atlanta
Nookie Postal, Boston Red Sox, Boston
Mark Newman, Newman Farm Berkshire Pork, Ozarks, Mo.
Wally Joe, Acre Restaurant, Memphis; and Ed Lee, 610 Magnolia, Louisville, Ky.

I've been lucky enough to sample some of Chef Lee's food earlier this summer, and Andrew Ticer and Michael Hudman served me what is the leader in the clubhouse for my meal of the year, so I can vouch that these folks have chops. If you watched the competitive cooking show Around the World in 80 Plates, you might recognize Steve "Nookie" Postal, executive chef for the Boston Red Sox, as one of the most entertaining competitors. He should stir things up a little bit.

According to the official rules, the objectives of the event are:

1. Have a fun, friendly competition with a 150- to 175-pound pig from a local farm

2. Inspire a menu strategy utilizing whole heritage breed pigs

3. Create 500-plus servings showcasing pull, muscle, bone, stew plus 2 sides, and 30 judge plates

4. Deliver and be scored on flavor, technique, animal utilization, sides and presentation

It sounds like it will be a fabulous weekend, and I've already made my plans to be there. If you want more information or to purchase your tickets, visit the event website. Bring your Lipitor.

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