Will Nolan, Eight K, Denver 

Chefs are the creative tastemakers 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 delicious bites for our competition. Meet Chef Will Nolan from our Denver  event.

Can you give us a quick rundown of the theme behind your winning Cochon555 menu?

I chose my menu based on my cooking history.  I am a New Orleans native and have lived in southeast Asia.  You can see the items reflected on my menu.

Why is  heritage breed pork special for you – and how would you describe its flavor to the uninitiated?

Heritage breed pork is special for many reasons; flavor, texture, nutritional benefits and most importantly the quality of life for the animal.  If you have ever seen a commodity pig farm, it would hurt your soul.The flavors can vary from farm to farm and animal to animal, I find in the breeds I receive from my local ranchers (Mountain Primal, Sustainable Settings and Cedar Ridge Ranch) can be an acorn, nutty and or smoky flavor.

Choose your best pork memory and describe it for us.

My best pork memory comes from the first time I slaughtered and eviscerated my first pig.  It was a 300lb Berkshire.  It was very spiritual and emotional for me.  Right before harvesting the pig, my surroundings became very surreal.  Everything seemed to become quiet and calm, almost like time slowed down.  With pistol in hand I walked into the pen and met the animal.  I rubbed her on the head and said a few words of ultimate appreciation for her life.  After the deed was done I held her as she passed on.  I took great pride in working with one of my chef heroes, Flip Wise, as we eviscerated and butchered her.  I made sure to use every part of her to the best of my abilities as a cook.  From the skin, blood, offal, to the trotters, I made sure everything was cooked with respect.

Join Chef Will at Grand Cochon on October 1st in Chicago as he represents Denver! Don’t sleep on the best party of the year!