Michelle DeSchaaf, 1936 Meadowbrook Farm, Chicago 

Farmers are the very heart of the Cochon555 tour. As part of our new Spotlight series for guests past and present, we take you behind the scenes for a Q&A with those who provide the beautiful and delicious pigs for our competition. Meet Michelle DeSchaaf from our Chicago event.

What is your farming philosophy?
Our philosophy is pretty simple; happy pigs just taste better!  We are an AWA (Animal Welfare Approved) Pig Farm.  So this means we follow AWA standards, which in our case was pretty simple since we already were raising our pigs on rotational pastures, open farrowing, and not using antibiotics.  It’s a great program for a farmer to be in.   The independent audits are like a yearly proof that you are doing a good job.

What is it that intrigues you about heritage breed pigs?
That breeds have been unchanged for 100’s of years, our breed the Mangalitsa was developed back in 1833 during the Austro-Hungarian Empire but not recognized as a breed until 1927.  The Mangalitsa has a long curly wooly coat, and it also referred to the Kobe Beef of the pork world.

What is your favorite pork cut and way to cook it?
Not sure I can just pick one!  Every cut is great; it’s just all in how you prepare it.   From pork belly rubbed with Coffee BBQ to Ramen made with pork stock.  A whole pig cooked in the Caja China.

The root of all Cochon555 events is the community of small and family farmers whose sacrifice and talent results in the heritage breed pigs we celebrate. Michelle Deschaaf  from 1936 Meadowbrook Farm focuses her efforts on raising Blond Mangalitsa. These breeds are known for its high-quality, lardo-type fat, and its high percentage of marbling, which doubles that of average pork. The Mangalitsa yields juicy and flavorful meat. You can find out more about them and get information about where to enjoy the savory gifts of their labor at http://1936meadowbrook.com.