By Mitchell Nover
Five of Miami’s all-star chefs showed off their porcine prowess at Cochon 555 at the Four Seasons this past Sunday in Brickell. Going on its sixth year, Cochon 555 is the nation’s premier culinary tour touting the flavor and health benefits of eating heritage breed pigs via a nose-to-tail culinary competition. Great Food List was lucky enough to have a sty-side seat for the action alongside a sold out crowd of foodies.
This year’s competing chefs included Jose Mendin of The Pubbelly Group, Conor Hanlon of The Dutch, Bradley Herron of Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink, Dena Marino of MC Kitchen and returning champion Aaron Brooks of EDGE Steak & Bar. The five chefs, champions to the pig, battled it out in a friendly competition by preparing a maximum of six dishes each created from one whole heritage breed pig to win votes from a crowd of hungry gourmands and celebrated judges.
Ultimately Chef Jose Mendin from Pubbelly took home the title of Miami’s “Prince of Porc” thanks to his great diversity of dishes, ranging from Pig Sushi Nigiri, Neapolitan Terrine, Bacon & Oyster Chowder, Mofongo and La Tripleta. Chef Mendin will go on to compete in the Grand Cochon at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen in June for bragging rights as the country’s “King of Porc” and a four-day wine experience to Rioja, Spain’s most prominent wine region.
Additional standout dishes included the Bacon Sundae from Chef Conor Hanlon of The Dutch, Chef Dena Marino’s Potato Parmesan Gnocchi in Pork Ragu from MC Kitchen, the Head Cheese Arepa from Edge, Steak & Bar’s Chef Aaron Brooks, and the Pork Belly with Clam Ceviche and Crispy Lentils from Chef Bradley Herron of Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink.
And, if that wasn’t enough, guests were also able to experience some fine drinks from presenting sponsor Goose Island Beer Co.; a live butchering demonstration at the Pop-Up Butcher Shop with Thomas Griese of Michael Mina 74, benefitting Johnson & Wales University with the support of Williams-Sonoma; different ages of Prosciutto di Parma ranging between 14 and 30 months, sliced by hand off a bone-in leg; the “Punch Kings” cocktail competition featuring five local barkeeps presented by Breckenridge Bourbon. Our favorite drink at the event was the Honkers Ale by Goose Island Beer.
But Cochon 555 isn’t just about great chefs, great food and great flavors. It’s also about great product and supporting local agriculture. Each of the participating chefs was paired up with a local pig farm, which provided a different breed of heritage pig to work with. We caught up with Michael and Lisa, from Lake Meadow Naturals who explained the importance of using heritage breed pigs. Heritage pigs have no genetic alterations, are free from antibiotic, hormones and steroids; feed on a grain and vegetable diet, and are allowed to roam free. Raised naturally, heritage pigs mature as mother nature intended.
Cochon 555 and its programs support responsible family farming across the country donating thousands to charities and great farmers that preserve and raise these heritage breed pigs; as they are not suited for industrial commercial farming practices. The magic of Cochon 555, is the collaboration between experienced heritage pig farmers teaming up with amazing chefs. In the end, Chef Jose Mendin and the amazing star line up of competing chefs, farmers and consumers stand in the winner’s circle.