Cochon555’s Epic Culinary Competition Tour & Experiential Food Experience Announces a Portion of Ticket Sales Will Support a Charity Dedicated to Creating the World’s First Open-Source Genetics Model for Family Farming
If you love a good cause and want to attend one of the tastiest culinary events in the country, then clear your weekend calendar when Cochon555 returns to Houston on February 28th when five chefs compete with five heritage breed pigs in a friendly competition for a cause. The food is hyper-local and eating for a cause has never tasted to good. The weekend begins with back to back charity dinners followed by the head-to-toe, nationally celebrated Cochon555 at the JW Marriott Houston Downtown on Sunday afternoon. Guests buying an all-inclusive Cochon555 ticket sample forty of the best bites prepared by top chefs paired with artisan wines selected by celebrated winemakers and sommeliers alongside an endless culinary cocktail program from notable barkeeps. The events benefit Piggy Bank, a genetic sanctuary that will provide free heritage breed pigs and business plans to emerging family farms. Guests are united with the who’s who of the good food movement helping to raise monies to support the first open-source platform for family farming.
On Sunday, February 28th, Cochon555 will be held at JW Marriott Houston Downtown. This year’s competing chefs include Jean-Philippe Gaston of Izakaya, Justin Yu of Oxheart Restaurant, David Cordua of Americas, Richard Knight of Hunky Dory and William Wright of Helen Greek Food and Wine. The five chefs will prepare a maximum of six dishes from one whole hog and their utilization will help them win votes from a crowd of hungry gourmands and celebrated judges. The winner of the regional event will be announced as the “Prince of Porc” and go on to compete for the national title of “King of Porc” at Grand Cochon, the tour finale, held at the Viceroy in Snowmass / Aspen on June 18th. Judges this year include Host Chef Jelle Vandenbroucke and Spencer Lane of JW Marriott Houston Downtown, Shaun Sharma of El Big Bad, Johnny Perez of Culinary Institute LeNôtre, Terrence Gallivan and Seth Siegel-Gardner of Pass & Provisions, Phaedra Cook of Houston Press, Greg Morago of Houston Chronicle, Taylor Byrne Dodge of My Table Houston, Freelancer Mai Pham, Kevin Fink of Emmer & Rye and new this year, the five Sommeliers in the Somm Smackdown including; Marc Borel of Rainbow Lodge, Craig Collins MS of ELM Resto Group, Natalie Vaclavik of Victory, Lexey Davis of Brick & Mortar and Dale Ellington of Kata Robata will help find the winner.
On Friday, February 26th, Jean-Philippe Gaston of Izakaya will host a guest chef Late Night Asian Speakeasy featuring an all-star lineup including Anthony Calleo of Pi Pizza, Jordan Asher, Adam Doris of Pax Americana and Manabu Horiuchi of Kata Robata with the support of Sun Noodle. The family-style feast paying homage to Chinese, Sichuan, Korean, Thai and Japanese restaurants begins with a reception of hand-crafted punches with The Perfect Puree of Napa Valley alongside a special tasting of Martínez Lacuesta reserve vermouths. Watch the dinner sneak preview video here: www.AsianSpeakeasy.com. On Saturday, February 27th, Lyle Bento of Southern Goods will host a Chef’s Course Dinner, a refined three-hour culinary experience featuring five chefs including Jonathan Jones of El Big Bad, PJ Stoops of Foreign Correspondents, Randy Rucker of Bramble and Chris Leung of Cloud 10 Creamery cooking a five-courses paired with premium wines. The all-inclusive dinner begins with a reception of passed hors d’oeuvres from each chef alongside a special tasting of Martínez Lacuesta Vermouths followed by a seated dinner paired with Alysian Wines. The charity dinners are limited to 40 seats and 100% of the proceeds will benefit Piggy Bank. Reservations are currently are online for purchase at www.Piggy-Bank.org.
Additional Culinary Programming beyond the 36 competition dishes prepared from locally-raised pigs will include the TarTare Bar with Creekstone Farms featuring Chef Bobby Matos of State of Grace, “Luxe Butter Bar” premium butter experience featuring the wines of Antica Napa Valley, Epicurean Butter and La Brea Bakery plus a reserve tasting of Prosciutto di Parma. All guests will enjoy The Artisan Cheese Bar featuring Cypress Grove Chevre, Coach Farm, Parrano, 34 Degrees and Creminelli Fine Meats and the new Seafood Shelf featuring Rappahannock River Oysters. Everyone casting a vote for the best bite of the day at the voting table gets a ticket to “Taste the New” Ramen Bar prepared by Manabu ‘Hori’ Horiuchi of Kata Robata paired with the stunning Wines of Germany and featuring Sun Noodle followed by the Pop-Up Pie Shop right before the Awards Ceremony. All guests will have the opportunity to take home delicious heritage breed pork from the Pop-Up Butcher Shop, a butchering demonstration with Andrew Vaserfirer of Revival Market. The Butcher Shop is a retail experience raising money for the charity Piggy Bank and will be hosted by celebrated emcee Billy Harris of Hanging with Harris with the support of Williams-Sonoma and our friends at Hedley & Bennett.
The Cochon555 Culinary Cocktail programming starts during VIP hour with Cochon555’s Punch Kings featuring Breckenridge Bourbon, a regional competition featuring five notable barkeeps including Morgan Weber of Coltivare Pizza & Garden, Leslie Ross of Canard, Ornella Ashcraft of Helen Greek Food and Wine, Chelsea Magee of State of Grace and Noah Edger of Izakaya all hoping to win passage for a chance at the national title. During registration, everyone enjoys “The Welcome Punch” reception featuring Buffalo Trace, DRY Sparkling and The Perfect Puree of Napa Valley who will be offering a chance to win two round-trip tickets to Heritage Fire in Napa. Wine is back in a big way in 2016 with the ““Five Winemakers” including sought-after wines from Paul Draper (Ridge Wines), Rajat Parr (Sandhi Wines), Abe Schoener (Scholium Project), Jeff Pisoni (Pisoni Vineyards), Pax Mahle (Pax Wine Cellars) and special guest Matt Courtney of Arista Vineyards, a spotlight Sommelier Smackdown, Lake Sonoma Winery, Alysian Wine, Luiz Martinez Lacuesta and Azzurro Wine Company. The “World of Wines” table will have the crowds watching and sampling as five of the city’s top sommeliers tell us what they think pairs best with heritage breed pork and the best wine across-the-board will be selected the winner of the event. Tequila enthusiasts will love “The Perfect Margarita Experience” and the opportunity to discover hand-crafted luxury tequilas including Don Julio Blanco, Reposado, Añejo, 70th Anniversary and Don Julio 1942. Going mobile is the “Heritage Rum Cart” that will travel through the crowds featuring Rhum Clement and Plantation, premium brands with an educational approach to showcasing styles and the regional influences of rum including Spanish, French and British. The “Chupito” Mezcal Experience will feature Don Amado Mezcal, Fidencio Mezcal, Mezcales de Leyenda, Koch el Mezcal, La Venenosa and Mezcal Derrumbes. Bourbon and whiskey lovers rejoice with the return of the “Perfect Manhattan” an experience featuring Eagle Rare and Buffalo Trace finished with Luxardo cherries in a hand-prepared classic topped with a special treat from Creminelli Fine Meats. The amazing “TIKI BAR” features tiki-inspired libations featuring The Perfect Puree of Napa Valley and Breckenridge Distillery. Classic cocktail enthusiasts will enjoy the Smoked Old Fashioned presented by Breckenridge Bourbon with support from Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao. Fans of low-proof cocktails will love the reserve beauties at Martínez Lacuesta’s Vermut Bar. Friends in need of non-alcoholic options will experience the culinary soda lineup from DRY Sparkling and right before the awards, everyone is invited to experience “The Last Word” featuring Junipero and Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur right before a quick video and announcement of the 2016 Princess or Prince of Porc Houston. The one-of-a-kind experience will take place at JW Marriott Houston Downtown. Don’t miss the chance to buy tickets to this fairy-tale heritage pork event as tickets are expected to sell-out to this an all-inclusive stand up reception.
“I’m excited about all the new partners in 2016 who support family farming and independent business. The Cochon555 Tour is now a movement, from hosting celebrated culinary events and dinners all over North America to reaching a global audience with the news of the first open-source agricultural model. The tour is dedicated to helping family farmers succeed, period,” stated founder Brady Lowe. “This doesn’t exist anywhere in the world, together, with some of the best chefs and partners in hospitality, we amplify the conservation of heritage pork once again, which for many is a ‘gateway’ to a larger appreciation of where our food comes from and the people that raise it, leading to more mindful eating and safer food choices for our youth. We can’t wait to return for an amazing weekend in Houston with two dinners raising money for Piggy Bank, a 501(c)(3) project of the Giving Back Fund.”
Founder Brady Lowe has a long-term commitment to making Piggy Bank the charity recipient of tour moving forward. The Cochon555 tour will find 275 donors each year to help fuel the movement in addition to hosting dinners and other activities. Piggy Bank seeks to build a future for family farming with the goal of changing the future of food and promoting long-term farming sustainability. Piggy Bank will raise heritage breed pigs to be gifted to new farmers and culinary schools, assist new family farms with herd development and help existing farms challenged by disaster. For more details about Piggy Bank, please visit www.Piggy-Bank.org, or follow @piggybankorg on Twitter.
Where: JW MARRIOTT HOUSTON DOWNTOWN - Official Host & Hotel
VIP Admission: 4PM / $200
Chefs + Restaurants
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JEAN-PHILIPPE GASTONHe quickly made a name for himself, and was selected “Up and Coming Chef of the Year” by the Houston Culinary Awards while at Haven; Cove was an instant success and was ranked #10 on Alison Cooks annual “Top 100 Restaurants” list in 2013. In 2014, Gaston again joined forces with Chef Manabu Horiuchi to open Izakaya, where the two serve as Co-Executive Chefs. At this modern day izakaya, the menu reflects today’s global palate, peppered with Gaston’s sense of fun. He lives in the Montrose neighborhood of Houston, and when not there, Gaston hits the road traveling and continuing his lifelong love of exploration.
SWABIAN HALLCreated in 1821 in Germany, the pig was a result between the mating of Wild Russian Boar and the Meishan from China, the fattest pig in the world with the leanest pig in the world. The meat is darker than some pork from other breeds and has an intensive flavor. It is especially succulent with a distinctive aroma and a strong taste.
JUSTIN YUOxheart Restaurant
JUSTIN YUJustin Yu is a native Houstonian and graduate of Memorial High School and the Culinary Institute of America. He has cooked in highly rated restaurants in the states and internationally. At Oxheart, Justin cooks seasonally inspired, vegetable focused cuisine. The restaurant has been lucky to have been mentioned.
IBERICOOriginating from the Iberian Peninsula, Ibericos are descendent of wild boars. Ibericos are short-haired black pigs, with black hooves, large torsos, slender legs and a very long snout, which is distinctive of their great foraging abilities. It is a breed known for roaming pastures while snacking on acorns. Iberico pork is highly micro-marbled with large fat caps, perfect for cured meats.
RICHARD KNIGHTHunky Dory
RICHARD KNIGHTBorn in England, Richard Knight worked as an executive chef in kitchens around the UK before moving to Houston, Texas to open the critically acclaimed "Feast" restaurant in 2008. Feast received numerous local and national awards for its whimsical and creative take on British nose-to-tail cooking. After "Feast" Richard joined the Treadsack team and opened their new restaurant “Hunky Dory” in October of 2015. The restaurant continues to wow both customers and press with its combination of the best of an old world dining experience with a great neighborhood feel.
BLACK SPOTA farmer’s cross of two breeds, a Gloucestershire Old Spot and a Large Black. Large Blacks are known for their pasture foraging, large belly and high micro-marbling. Old Spots are known for their floppy ears, high fat ratio and flavorful meat. Combining the traits of the two breeds ensures rich and deliciously moist pork.
WILLIAM WRIGHTHelen Greek Food and Wine
WILLIAM WRIGHTThe multi-experienced Executive Chef William Wright, 27, has focused on culinary cuisines from around the globe and most recently zeroed in on Greece, focusing on traditional dishes from every region for Rice Village’s Helen Greek Food and Wine. Wright has embraced the art of regionality and simplicity into his cuisine by learning Houston’s diverse cuisines and using his well-accredited culinary skills.
LARGE BLACKOriginating from Chinese breeds brought to England, the Large Black is a critically rare breed known for its taste, pasture foraging skills and overall hardiness. Large Blacks have short black hair, wide shoulders and a long body. When harvested, even at 200 pounds, the micro-marbling, short muscle fibers and excellent bellies produce exceptional bacon and moist meat with old world flavor.
DAVID CORDUATrained in the kitchens of Paris and the California wine country David has continued the legacy of his family's Nuevo Latino cooking tradition at their 9 Houston area restaurants where he serves as Executive Chef. In 2010 he was named Up and Coming Chef of the Year at the Houston Culinary Awards and in 2015 he was awarded 40 Under 40 by the Houston Business Journal as well as Truffle Chef of the Year in the Houston Truffle Chef Charity Challenge.
HEREFORDOriginating from the U.S. during the 1920’s, the Hereford is a rare, but well-known breed. Resembling Hereford cows, these hogs have a distinguished reddish-brown coat and white face. The Hereford is known for its calm disposition and ability to thrive on pastures. It is a slower-growing breed, yielding rich colored, marbled meat.
ABE SCHOENERSCHOLIUM PROJECT
ABE SCHOENERA note from Abe: I am the winemaker. For a long time, I did everything by myself, but then I realized that I needed the help of brilliant friends to succeed. I still do much alone, especially in the realm furthest from the winery and vineyards.
SAV. BLANCSavage skin-fermented Sauvignon Blanc from the fragrant, less severe portion of Sonoma Mountain's Farina Vineyard. A deep, smoky wine with tannins that are rich and structured, civil and well-organized.
JEFF PISONIPISONI ESTATE
JEFF PISONIJeff spent his childhood immersed in his family, the farm and the vineyards. These influences, his father’s winemaking and an early interest in science allowed Jeff to know from very early on that he would pursue a life of making wine. Jeff loves the interwoven art, science and craft aspects of winemaking, and the never-ending learning and appreciation of nature found while working with the vineyards and wine.