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Food & Drink
Cochon 555 Returns to Santa Monica
2015-03-23 10:03:19
By Carole Dixon

On March 29, pork lovers reunite in Los Angeles for Cochon 555, one of the country’s most talked about culinary competitions which celebrates family farms and the local chef community.  Most importantly, the event features five top chefs in a one-of-a-kind cook-off featuring over 36 dishes prepared from locally-raised whole heritage breed pigs with endless wine, brews and spirits. This year’s competing chefs include Tony DiSalvo of CAST at the Viceroy Santa Monica – Official Host & Hotel, Ricardo Zarate of Chef Zarate, Walter Manzke of Republique, Kris Morningstar of Terrine, and Steven Fretz of The Church Key. The five chefs, champions of whole hog utilization, will prepare a maximum of six dishes with hopes to win votes from a crowd of hungry gourmands and celebrated judges.

A pack of notable judges, led by Ray Garcia, 2014 King of Porc, and chef at soon to open Broken Spanish will help select LA’s “Prince of Porc.” The winner goes on to compete for the title of "King or Queen of Porc” at the tour finale, Grand Cochon at Snowmass/Aspen in June. The grand champion will be rewarded with a 4-day wine experience in Rioja, Spain’s most prominent wine region. And, new in 2015, the winner's kitchen countertops will be resurfaced with Wilsonart Quartz decorative surfacing, a remarkable, beautiful engineered stone material from America's countertop leader. 

Cochon’s “pop-up” culinary experiences include the Petit Format Bar presented by Wilsonart Quartz decorative surfacing featuring a selection of amazing half-bottles, the Wines of Rioja Tapas Bar spotlighting Jared Levy of The Eveleigh, Bacon Hall of Fame presented by Maggy Hawk Vineyards and before the awards, BBQ Traditions “Cuban Style” prepared by Chef Nikki Martin. Guests can visit the Mezcal Chupito Bar and enter to win a 4-day Mezcal adventure to Mexico.

Upon arrival, guests will enjoy Buffalo Trace’s “Welcome Punch Reception” paired with a delicious bite. Attendees will sample foods at signature experiences like the Artisan Cheese Bar with DTLA Cheese and Beecher’s Handmade Cheese, Rappahannock Oyster Shelf, Prosciutto di Parma, Black River Caviar and the infamous TarTare Bar featuring Creekstone Farms prepared by Mike Kahikina of Barrel and Ashes. Bourbon and whiskey lovers rejoice with the return of the Whistle Pig Rye and the “Perfect Manhattan Experience” featuring Eagle Rare, Buffalo Trace, Breckenridge Bourbon and Hirsch finished with Luxardo cherries in this hand-prepared classic topped with a special treat from Creminelli. Guests of VIP can enjoy samples from five of the city’s best barkeeps as they compete in Punch Kings - the tour’s whole bottle “meats” golden gloves competition, featuring Breckenridge Bourbon. As guests leave the event, they’ll receive a special departing gift from La Brea Bakery.

Guests can also enjoy a pop-up butcher shop with the support of Williams-Sonoma – a live butchering demonstration with Travis Stockshill of Cook’s Family Butcher Shop, raising money for the supporting culinary students from Le Cordon Bleu.  New sponsors in 2015 include Whistle Pig, Visit Houston featuring notable chefs, and PANNA’s new Simmer app. Finally, before the awards ceremony, the signature “Swine & Sweets” course will be served followed by a spotlight Awards Toast and announcement of the winner. Following the event, all the guests are invited to the Chef’s After Party at Cast. 

On March 27, the weekend takeover commences with two epic nights of dinners hosted by last years winner of the Cochon 555 US Tour, Ray Garcia of the soon to be open Broken Spanish and BQ Taqueria. On Friday, the Chef’s Course dinner featuring five guest chefs including 2014 “King of Porc” Grand Cochon Winner Ray Garcia,“2010 King of Porc” David Varley of RN74 Seattle, Vartan Abgarya of Cliff’s Edge, Carlos Salgado of Taco Maria and Roxana Jullapat with a “Nose to Taco Reception” followed by five courses paired with the Wines of Germany at BS Taqueria. On Saturday, the festivities continue with Ray Garcia hosts a preview of Broken Spanish with Big Beef versus Heritage Pork in a “Large Format Feast” Dinner paired with St. Francis Winery, Hirsch & Old Potrero and Creekstone Farms. For more information: www.cochon555.com