Cochon 555 made a stop at the Loew's South Beach yesterday as part of the national pig tour that pits local top chefs and raises awareness of the sustainable farming of heritage-breed pigs. "It takes you to buy it," Brady Lowe said. "So next time you go to a restaurant and see 'heritage-breed pig' on the menu, order it."
Chefs are given five days to break down a whole 200-pound-plus pig from tail to stout and create a maximum of six dishes. This year's pork-feast contenders were Richard Hales of Sakaya Kitchen, Jason Pringle of DB Bistro Moderne, Lindsay Autry of Fin & Feather, Todd Erickson of Haven Gastro Lounge, and Xavier Torres of Drunken Dragon. Judges were Aaron Brooks of Edge Steak & Bar, Giovanny Gutierrez of Chat Chow TV, Jose Mendin of Pubbelly, Conor Hanlon of the Dutch, Norman Van Aken, Jamie DeRosa of Tongue & Cheek, Danny Serfer of Mignonette, the Miami Ink guys, Chowfather, and the farms that provided the pigs for the festivities.
In the end, Top Chef alum and former Michelle Bernstein protegée Lindsay Autry was crowned "Princess of Porc." Her team included Clay Conley of Buccan, Aaron Black of PB Catch, Isaac Cerny of Pistache French Bistro, Lauren DeShields of Market 17, and Tim Lipman of Coolinary Café. She'll move on to the Grand Cochon in Aspen, where she'll go whole hog against all the other city winners in an attempt to walk away the "Queen of Porc."
Bartenders also competed for the title of the best punch bowl of the evening, as well as a thousand-dollar bottle of bourbon courtesy of Breckenridge. Brian Sassen of Repour took the prize for his Mt. Moshi creation. Sassen will be flown to Denver the first weekend of June to battle other finalists and for the chance to be invited to Aspen.
The crowd apparently agreed on Mt. Moshi's superiority, because it was the first punch bowl that was emptied. Fortunately, New Times snagged the last glass. In it: Breckenridge, lemon, yuzu, Asian honey, Asian pear, orange juice, Barrow's ginger liqueur, peach bitters, pineapple, and orange.
Sugarcane Raw Bar & Grill's Welcome to Mamey Beach was refreshing and also a crowd pleaser. It contained Breckenridge, mamey-infused lemongrass, fresh lemon juice, palm sugar, and benedictines.
A pop-up butcher shop had the Miami Smokers guys break down a whole Berkshire hog from Florida Fresh Meat Co. so that pork lovers could take home some heritage goodness. All $750 of the proceeds went to the culinary students of Johnson & Wales.
Everyone's vote counted, plus you got a pin with a pig to flaunt proudly.
DB Bistro Moderne's giant chicharron.
Now here's something you don't see often: a pig (Wilbur in this case) getting tatted, courtesy of Miami Ink's body paint masters.
Local chefs with Wilbur and his tat.
Drunken Dragon's fideua: pork shoulder, kimchee, English peas, pork jus, and sea salt.
National sponsor Whistle Pig straight rye.
Dena Marino of MC Kitchen enchanted with her one-bite wonder: prosciutto di parma and fontina panini with peach-orange sage.
Todd Erickson's dumpling — made with braised pig, fig, and milk bread — packed Chinese barbecue sauce too.
Of course, the French guys (from DB Bistro) would use their pig to make bacon, dulce de leche, maple, and dark chocolate macarons.
When he wasn't judging or playing with Wilbur, Jose Mendin held it down in the tartare bar, where he whipped up beef heart tartare with rustic aji panca, crisp sunchokes, pickled key limes, and toasted cumin.
New Times' vote and favorite bite of the night went to Richard Hales from Sakaya Kitchen for his crisp roti taco, stuffed with pig knuckle, sea-salt-and-pepper squid, cilantro aioli, and benne seeds, which got us even more excited about the opening of Centro Taco in July. He also made 200 dumplings containing shoulder, leg, foie, and ramps, but they flew before the event opened to the public at 5 p.m.
Erickson went all out with his maple-braised pork cinnamon brioche rolls topped with bourbon-pecan caramel. Yes. He. Did.
The perfect Manhattan bar provided the ideal libation to wash down all the pork.
DB Bistro's beautiful leg work.
Autry's beautifully presented "Spam" mortadella.
Word from the judges was that Autry's liverwurst push-pops were heavenly. Must be why they were gone by the time we rolled around to her table.
Erickson's offal napoleon (pork liver mousse with head cheese, trotter, apricot, and blackberry) was another favorite.
He also made carnitas tamales with pork butt, green chilies, lime, and crema.
And just when attendees thought they couldn't eat anymore pig, Brad Kilgore came out with the bonus hog of the evening. We pigged out on this jerk barbecue porchetta.
And potato salad with whole herbs and ground pork sausage.
And smoked chili sausage.
And pork confit tater tot with pimento cheese and ranch.
And "head to cheese" on rye-caraway cracker. Kilgore went
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A pig party deserves a pig head cake — or devil's food cake with stout in this case. As if that weren't gluttonous enough, it was served with Azucar's bacon/cream-cheese ice cream. Till next year, Cochon
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