COCHON 555 Brings the Pig and Leaves Nothing to Waste

anthony-hubbardLast night, Seattle’s Bell Harbor Center played host to COCHON 555, a magical showcase of artisan wine, cheese, and porcine prowess.  Five local chefs were each supplied with one of five 70-100lb heritage breed pigs last week, and challenged to bring their meatiest representations to COCHON 555 for 200 guests and a handful of judges.  Using the entire pig was not only encouraged, it was demanded, and with good reason.  The amount of organ meat and gelatinized, stewed, and reduced pork parts marked the highlight of the evening for the majority of attendees.  After all, these people didn’t shell out $125 apiece to explore the multi-faceted world of BLT’s and pork rinds, even if the main benefactor of the evening was the Neighborhood Farmers Market Alliance.

Over the course of the event, I took multiple laps around the conference center, and along with it multiple helpings of the offerings from some local culinary giants (Matt Dillon of The Corson Building; John Sundstrom of Lark; Jason Wilson of Crush; Tamara Murphy of Brasa; Anthony Hubbard of Chow Foods).  In the end I sampled such wonderment as heart and liver skewers, chilled pork belly consommé with brain mousse, and more head cheese and pate than you could shake a hoof at.  It wasn’t all dishes that borrowed from some Fear Factor-esque menu mind you; the chefs didn’t fail when it came time to highlight the complex flavors of their respective heirloom pigs.  One dish that stands out in particular was Chef Jason Wilson’s roasted pork saddle, which had spent no less than 18 hours slow cooking its way into melt-in-your-mouth goodness.

Dessert wasn’t off the table by any stretch of the imagination either.  From bacon-chip cookies with whipped lard icing, to bacon macaroons, sweet bacon caramel popcorn, and creamy pig’s blood ganache, I hadn’t realized it was possible to engage in such a sinister coupling of both bacon and dessert without being the least bit ashamed about it.

In the end, there could be only one winner, and the honor (swanky pig-topped trophy included) went to Anthony Hubbard of Chow Foods.  Between his Sea Breeze Farm milk-braised pork leg with Gorgonzola mousse and — my personal favorite of the evening — candied bacon ice cream served on a crispy bacon cone, he easily won the crowds 50% share of the vote.  Although the judges were privy to a slightly more select menu (some of the tastier bits like ears and snout just weren’t in ample enough supply to feed 200), I did manage a peek at the announcers score sheet and see that Anthony won them over handily as well.

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Pictured above: Anthony Hubbard and his “Your brain says no but your mouth says dear God yes” candied bacon ice cream.  Abridged photo set of the evening can be found HERE.

1 Comment so far

  1. stan on March 9th, 2009 @ 1:22 pm

    Whipped lard icing! How was it? I can’t imagine what that must taste like. And the texture…



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