by Olee Fowler
Five pigs, five winemakers and five of the city’s top chefs each creating dishes using a 200-pound heritage pig, made for one epic, pork-filled afternoon as Cochon 555 returned to Miami on April 21 at the Four Seasons Hotel.
The challenge, for the chefs brave enough to take it on, was to make dishes using the entire pig from nose-to-tail in order to win over the 20 judges and 400 guests on site tasting the cuisine. The victorious chef would earn the title of Prince of Porc 2013 and go on to the Grand Cochon representing Miami during the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen on June 16.
Battling it out this year was Aaron Brooks (Edge Steak & Bar), Timon Balloo (Sugarcane), Jeff McInnis (Yardbird), David Thomas (The Bazaar) and Cesar Zapata (The Federal) who paired their creations with wines from five boutique family-owned wineries including Elk Cove Vineyards, Bethel Heights, Hamacher, Montinore, and Alloro, along with five different bourbons including Breckenridge Bourbon, Eagle Rare, Templeton Rye, High West, Buffalo Trace and Four Roses.
All the chefs participating brought their A-game and creativity to the table. Every part of the pig, and we mean every part, was utilized for the meal. From a porchetta sandwich made with shaved pork foot by Brooks, to a corn “chow-dah” with pig head’s broth by Zapata, to a rocky road ice cream made with pigs blood by McInnnis, imaginative cooking techniques and adventurous eaters were on full display throughout the afternoon.
While every chef competing made delectable dishes, only one chef could win the title of Prince of Porc 2013. It became clear early on in the afternoon by the buzz in the crowd and the long lines at the table that Edge’s Aaron Brooks would be taking home the prize. In addition to the pork foot porchetta sandwich, his winning menu consisted of head cheese pastelitos; kielbasa with Pink Lady apples, smoked maple syrup and mustard; pork and clams with roasted garlic, three chilies, and coconut; smoked pork rib chili with blue cheese, celery, fried tortilla chips; and a chocolate bacon brownie with pig’s blood ice cream.
In case there wasn’t enough alcohol to go around, event organizers added a “Punch King” competition to the festivities this year. Six local bartenders were asked to create a special punch featuring Breckenridge Bourbon. The winning cocktail was Swine Southern’s “Run Pig Run Punch” featuring bourbon, fresh pineapple juice, fresh red bell pepper juice, lime, basil, grated nutmeg, and local honey, created by Robert Ferrara.
Pork wasn’t the only thing on the menu as local seafood and a craft cheese bar was on hand along with a pop up TarTare Bar by Todd Erickson of Haven Lounge. At the end of the day a second round of pork goodness came out as guests were treated to a preview of Cochon’s newest event, Heritage BBQ, by The Dutch’s Connor Hanlon.
Rounding the porcine-themed fun was a demonstration by a NYC female butcher Sara Bigelow, taking apart a 300-pound pig in front of a large, surprisingly male-dominated audience, and a pig tattooing session by none other than the guys from Miami Ink.
With another great Cochon in the books, we are already counting down the days until it makes its return to South Florida in 2014, until then we are sure Brooks and the Edge team will do Miami proud at the Grand Cochon in Aspen. Good luck guys!