Dave and Tami Ellicott, Cone Ranch, Denver

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 pigs for our competition. Meet Dave and Tami Ellicott of Cone Ranch from our Denver event.

What is your farming philosophy?
Innovative Foods is primarily engaged working with livestock producers, although most are additionally involved in traditional crop farming activities.  While not a traditional crop of livestock farming entity, we play a valuable local role as a “Farm To Fork Facilitator,” connecting regional family farms to front range chefs and restaurants.  Innovative Food’s customer base is almost exclusively small, family farm operations producing beef, pork, lamb, goat and a few yak and bison.  Simply put, our philosophy is working with smaller producers, like ourselves, who are family operated and focused on fresh, local, natural production of high quality livestock resulting in top shelf meat products.

What is it that intrigues you about heritage breed pigs?
Meat quality is undoubtedly the most significant aspect of heritage breed pigs.  Many of these breeds have been abandoned by commercial production due to lower female prolificacy and global demand for low-cost, net lean meat production.  Properly fed and managed in reduced stress environments, heritage breeds produce astounding meat quality that cannot be replicated in the large scale commercial operations, which are primarily confinement-based and focused on ultra-lean pork production, leaving quality pork behind.

What is your favorite pork cut and way to cook it?
I know it’s a challenge for most folks to get past bacon and sausage, which of course can be seriously good.  But honestly, my favorite pork cut is a 1 & 1/4″ thick Bone-In Berkshire Pork Chop, lightly seasoned and cooked over wood/charcoal with a little pecan and apricot (fruitwood) smoke to medium rare-pink and juicy in the middle.  It doesn’t get any better.  Except maybe for prosciutto and braised pig wings and green chili and posole and . . .

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. Dave and Tami Ellicott of Cone Ranch focus their efforts on raising Duroc. Duroc is high in marbling (small flecks of fat recurring throughout the muscle), making its spareribs and shoulder roasts sweet and juicy. You can find out more about them and get information about where to enjoy the savory gifts of their labor at http://innovativefoodsco.com.