Cochon 555: Here Piggy Piggy
The full pig splayed out in the Union Station Hotel atrium should have been a preview of scenes to come. In a full-on bacchanalia not seen much in today's world of the minimalist, back to nature, veggie-centered food scene, the Cochon 555 was in your face over-the-top. Pork is, after all one of the world's most luxurious, fatty, indulgent foods. As DIY charcuterie has become the number one game in town so has our interest in thoughtfully sourced pork.
Cochon 555 is a celebration of pork. No just any pork. Heritage breed pork. Consisting of a 14-city tour in the U.S., the Cochon 555 stopped in Nashville this past weekend. This is the set up: They provide five of Nashville's best chefs with five heritage breed pigs, with the challenge to create six original dishes with as much of the pig as they can. In addition to this little porcine competition, there were countless booths boasting cheese, breads, and the ever popular Tartare Bar—definite highlight paired with the show-stopping Antica Napa Valley Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. In addition to the all star chefs, five incredible bartenders also took to the floor to each create a punch featuring Breckenridge Whiskey. All proceeds from ticket sales and auction went to the Piggy Bank: a charity creating safe environments for family farms to raise heritage pigs and to give access better farming practices to create a better food future.
Chefs from Bajo Sexto, Nicky’s Coal Fired, Marsh House, Treehouse and Union Station Hotel (the gorgeous host venue) presented tables and dishes of all different sizes and styles. From classic brats to Italian delicacies. From artfully crafted tacos to steaming cups of pork ramen. The variety was dizzying. Indeed, this is Nasvhille in 2017.
After we had eaten all we could muster, and drank even more, a raucous crowd of mainly the chefs and their teams gathered in the main hall to hear the final result. Cheers could be heard from each corner of the room as the emcee Levon Wallace, of the yet-to-open 21C Hotel, toasted to safe food and sustainable farming practices. The title of Punch King was awarded to Tracy Ardoin Jenkins of Nicky’s Coal Fired for her Heat of the Moment punch with a mouth-watering, compressed pear. A true balance of heat and chill, this punch was a clear stand-out winner. Taking the prize and moving on to the final competition of all 14 city winners in Chicago this coming fall, was Kaelin Ulrich Trilling of Bajo Sexto: who is cooking up a storm at his restaurant in West Nashville.
As for the full pig on display? He was victim of the skillful knife of James Peisker of Porter Road Butcher. Cuts were then packaged and sold for charity. That'll do pig, that'll do.