Last week at this time, it was year two of the Cochon 555 tour’s visit to Seattle, in which five local chefs prepare five (um…not necessarily local, but the point is to raise awareness about heritage breeds and family-owned farms around the country) pigs to serve to a pork-happy crowd that also enjoys sips from five local winemakers. The place (Bell Harbor International Conference Center) was packed again, and there was pork-a-plenty for all to devour.
The event might have felt like competitive eating (competitive with oneself, craving creative bites in the face of shrinking stomach space), but it was also a competition between the chefs, as Seattle’s “Prince of Porc” would advance to face the winners from the ten other Cochon 555 events around the country in a final battle at the Food & Wine Classic next month in Aspen.
All attendees got to vote for the chef offering the best-tasting bite of the night, but in the judges’ room, I joined a smaller group of food lovers in evaluating each chef’s “menu” based on appearance, utilization of the whole pig, and taste. So what did the plates look like?
Chester Gerl of Matt’s in the Market offered up a Spanish-style plate of pork, including one of my favorite items of the event: mole ice cream (with a touch of cayenne) served on cinnamon chicharrones.
Anthony Hubbard, last year’s winner, served up pork-o fours, with layers of rillette, liver pate, and leaf lard, as part of his offerings.
John Sundstrom of Lark prepared three items, including pork belly tarte tatin with pineappe habanero relish.
Adam Stevenson of Earth & Ocean did an international plate of food, including “smart bombs” (brain, tongue, cheek, and shoulder-filled dumplings in pork dashi consomme).
Tamara Murphy of the recently closed Brasa did a plate highlighted (for me) by a delicious posole verde.
Slightly before entering food coma territory, we tallied our scoresheets and submitted them to supplement the public vote. The winner: John Sundstrom, whose tarte tatin was my favorite dish of the whole affair.
And the loser: bread. Look at all those photos. Given the amount of food, wouldn’t you have eventually picked at the pork and pushed all that bread aside, too?