After a week and a half of pig preparation, five New York City chefs and their culinary teams came together last Sunday evening at the beautiful Lighthouse at Chelsea Piers to present their dishes and compete for a spot at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen.
The evening began with a welcome drink from The King’s Ginger, a cocktail of Champagne and ginger liqueur. With the bubbly in hand, guests strolled through the room, taking in the view of the Hudson River and snacking on the likes of fresh Pacific Oysters and crispy wafers topped with crème fraîche and caviar.
Despite these deliciously briny indulgences, the stars of the evening were the five heritage breed pigs being showcased by the city’s top chefs. Each chef was given their own table upon which to present their array of dishes, and each chose to decorate their areas in a different way.
Chef Marc Forgione, of Restaurant Marc Forgione and TV’s “Iron Chef America,” chose to delight his diners by decorating his table with the skull of his pig and a sign which read, “What do you say to a naked pig? I never sausage a body.”
With everything from Liver Mousse with Pork Fat Brioche to individually wrapped Bacon Caramels, there was plenty of pork to go around. While all of the plates were incredibly rich and delicious, there were some that stood out among the others.
My personal favorites of the night were the Ham Sandwich with Trestle Pickles & Butter from Ralf Kuettel’s stand and the Brooklyn Brown Ale Braised Shoulder from Shaunna Sargent. Other plates included the likes of blood sausages, hot dogs, pork tacos, stuffed pig ears, pork crépinettes and more. There was an even an entire table dedicated to ibérico ham.
As all the feasting went on, Joshua Applestone of Fleisher’s Meats gave a butchering demonstration, showing the crowd just how the whole pigs are sliced up.
During the two hours of gorging on everything pig, guests were invited to cast their votes for the NYC prince or princess of pork. Single wooden chip ballots were placed in the box of the respected chefs, with guest votes being compiled with those of the official event judges who ate and voted earlier in the day.
After a guest buffet table from Fatty 'Cue, dessert and a Champagne toast, the winner was announced. Though truly great food was served by all, Chef Forgione was celebrated as the winner, picked to move on to the final round of competition this spring at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen.
From here, Cochon 555 will continue across the country in nine more cities, all leading up that final pork-off. The remaining national event dates are as follows:
Napa Valley Cochon 555 - January 29
Memphis Cochon 555 - February 4
Portland Cochon 555 - March 11
Boston Cochon 555 - March 25
Miami Cochon 555 - April 1
D.C. Cochon 555 - April 22
Chicago Cochon 555 - April 29
Los Angeles Cochon 555 - May 6
San Francisco Cochon 555 - May 20
Get your tickets here!