Just one whiff upon walking into the Hiro Ballroom on Sunday afternoon was enough to get a preview of what was in store at Cochon555—the gentle, soothing aroma of smoked meat filled the air, a welcome treat from the winter chill outside. Five local chefs, each given a different breed of heirloom pig, served them up to the crowds who were eager to get their pork on, all to benefit Farms for City Kids, a nonprofit designed to expose urban children to rural life.
The chefs served up virtually every part of the pig, from nose to tail, including: sausage, terrine, lard, pate, tenderloin, offal, pulled pork, and, if you were lucky enough to be standing in the right place at the right time, some tender bits of cheek. Here were some of the porcine delights:
Mark Ladner and his team from Del Posto cooked a Tamworth Pig from Metzger Farm. Starting with a traditional porchetta, Ladner then stuffed the pig with a sausage mixture, created a head cheese terrine, and created mini "lil smokey" type sausages served on house-made Parker house rolls. The porchetta, terrine, and free-form sausage were served with white beans and a rich pork broth.
Michael Clampffer of Mosefund Farm went a little crazy; each visit to his table brought a new dish from his Mangalitsa pig. Two versions of whipped lard topped crostini, one with an earthy addition of pork liver; an unctuous chunk of beer-braised pork belly; a tiny pork dumpling floating in a rich pork broth; and sausage-stuffed tenderloin atop braised cabbage (and that's only what we tasted; there were more!).
Among the dishes served by Resto's Bobby Hellen was a waffle subtly infused with pork and dotted with whipped lard, and Fatty Crab's Corwin Kave offered several dishes, including juicy, addictive chunks of barbecued pork from his Six-Spotted Berkshire pig infused with Malaysian flavors and topped with chilis.
The judging panel, including Pat La Frieda from La Frieda's Wholesale Meats, The Feedbag's Josh Ozersky, and Chris McBride from Savory New York took on the daunting task of tasting each and every dish.
At the judges table, Ozersky was heard to say, "How can we have all these dishes from all these chefs and not have one rib?" Despite the glaring omission, at the end of the day, Corwin Kave and Team Fatty Crab took home the trophy, appropriately topped with a gold pig.