“Cochon” is either a pig, a piglet, or a dirty pig (this last definition is the only non-literal one of the three). Cochon 555 is all about the first meaning: it’s Pork Fest 2011. Five chefs in select cities across the country choose five heritage breed pigs of about 175 pounds each (i.e., the ever popular Berkshire farm pig) and pair them with five wines. The chefs break down the whole pig, from nose to curly tail, ham it up and create pork-tastic plates, and are evaluated by attendees and judges.
The nationwide event aims to raise awareness for these special breeds and encourage sustainable butchering. New York, Seattle, and Denver all have had their go at the swine; this Sunday, May 1, LA gets its turn. Octavio Becerra (Palate Food & Wine), Chad Colby (Mozza), Suzanne Tracht (Jar), Ben Ford (Ford’s Filling Station), and Joshua Whigham (The Bazaar) each will compete for best in show. In the process of the butchering, watching, and pigging out, you’ll meet the farmers, learn about sustainable practices, why you should, if you can, bypass the huge processor as you travel from farm to table, and possibly have flashbacks of Laura Ingalls Wilder using a pig’s bladder as a little soccer ball. That, people, is an excellent example of using all parts of the pig.
Eating meat from farms following sustainable practices isn’t cheap (unfortunately), and this event isn’t either. But, if you can afford the entrance fee, this seems well worth it: general admission tickets are $125 and sold out a few weeks ago. For the extra $50 for the still-remaining VIP tickets, you get early admittance, private tastings of Sonoma-area vitners, “access to a sustainable oyster station”, and a butchering demo by sustainable butchers Lindy & Grundy (whose shop on Fairfax just opened, and you should go and have a look-see at what they’ve got, because they got a lot, and it’s all pretty great). Hopefully, events like Cochon 555 this will encourage trickle down eat-onomics.