Cochon 555 -- the showdown of swine -- returns to Colorado on Sunday
Lori Midson Kelly Liken and Alex Seidel at Cochon 555, in Denver.
Here's where the pig puns start: Two years ago, at the Ritz-Carlton in Denver, five Colorado chefs -- Alex Seidel (Fruition and Fruition Farms); Lachlan MacKinnon-Patterson (Frasca Food & Wine); Kelly Liken (Restaurant Kelly Liken); Frank Bonanno (Bonanno Concepts); and Jennifer Jasinski (Rioja, Euclid Hall and Bistro Vendome) -- went pig hoof to pig ears in a porkerific showdown, as part of Cochon 555, a traveling pig stampede that traverses through different American cities showcasing chefs who vie for the title of "Prince or Princess of Porc."
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I was a judge -- one of 23 -- who pigged out on the endless parade of pork dishes -- and to this day, I still don't think I'm cured.
This Sunday, Cochon 555 returns to Colorado, this time to Vail, at the Four Seasons, where, again, five Colorado chefs -- Seidel; Liken; Lon Symensma (Cholon Modern Bistro); Hosea Rosenberg (Blackbelly Catering); and Jason Harrison (Flame restaurant, in Vail) -- will duke it out for pig paramountcy. Each chef is required to create a nose-to-tail menu using five heritage-breed pigs from Tender Belly, a locally-based company that sources its piggies from small farms in Colorado and Iowa; Tender Belly is also supplying all of the bacon for the swine soiree.
In addition to the judged showdown, the event, which is open to the pig-loving public, will pimp samples of the chef's creations and attendees can cast their votes for the chef who should be crowned the "Prince or Princess of Porc." The winner of the Vail battle will compete against victorious chefs from other Cochon 555 cities, all of whom will descend upon Aspen on June 16 to compete at the Grand Cochon brawl, where just one chef will stomp away with the halo.
Along with this year's chef battle, Cochon 555 will also include a cocktail competition featuring bourbons from Breckenridge Distillery, Buffalo Trace and others distillers, butchery demonstrations from Bill Greenwood, chef of Beano's Cabin, an oyster bar, artisanal cheeses from Cured in Boulder, beers from Anchor Brewing, pork-spanked desserts and digestifs to make sure that your belly doesn't burst.
The porcine extravaganza starts at 5 p.m. (4 p.m. for VIPs), and tickets are available at http://amusecochon.com/2013/vail/.
And take my word for it: It's absolutely worth going to.