Cochon 555: Aaron Brooks, Pigs Win Big (Photos)
All photos by Alex Rodriguez
What do you get when you put Miami's top toques, five heritage breed pigs, bourbon, and a hot girl butchering a 300-pound porker all in the same room?
A bitchin' good time, that's what.
Swooping in for its second tour in Miami, Cochon 555 proved to be yet another fantastic event for attendees, judges, and Edge Steak & Bar's Aaron Brooks.
The Four Seasons executive chef nailed his first Cochon 555 title, beating Yardbird's Jeff McInnis, Sugarcane's Timon Balloo, the Bazaar's David Thompson, and the Federal's Cesar Zapata.
The audience roared when Brooks was announced the victor. Having lost last year's Cochon after giving it his all, Brooks doubled his efforts this time and -- along with a pig named Lucky and a stellar team -- prevailed, finally.
Each chef brought at least one spectacular dish to the table. For Zapata, it was a Chicago hot dog made with pork shoulder, gougères, mortadella mousse, tomato-jalapeño relish, spicy mustard, and celery seeds.
The crowd favorite, from McInnis, was the "Wonder Bread" bao bun sloppy joe. And one of the evening's most interesting dishes was Thompson's bacon cotton candy with a bourbon gelée center.
Almost everyone we ran into whispered, "Go try Balloo's dessert. It's the best one here!" The tapioca sweet consisted of coconut lard jelly with mango and blood Szechwan peppercorn ice cream.
Brooks' winning menu featured flaky headcheese pastelitos, kielbasa with Pink Lady apples, and smoked maple syrup; a porchetta sandwich with shaved foot (which freaked out many attendees); pork 'n' clams with roasted garlic and coconut; smoked pork rib chili with blue cheese and fried tortillas; and a chocolate bacon brownie with blood ice cream.
Sweet, sweet victory!
Homemade Slim Jims from Jeff McInnis.
Chicago hot dogs from Cesar Zapata.
Wonder Bread bao buns a la sloppy joe from McInnis.
Sweet frozen cracklings from David Thompson.
The chopping block at Timon Balloo's station.
Bacon cotton candy with bourbon gelée.
Todd Erickson at the Tartar table.
Sliders from the Dutch's pop-up.
The sexiest woman at the event: A New York butcher who was flown in to take a 300-pound pig apart for the audience. The question of the evening remained why organizers couldn't find a butcher in Miami to do the job -- but no one was complaining about the young lady.
Croquetas from the Dutch's pop-up.
Bacon caramel popcorn for dessert.
The winning team.
Follow Alex on Twitter @ARodWrites.
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