Houston Chefs Will Compete to “Hog the Glory” at Cochon555
When the epic porky paradise that is Cochon555 returns to Houston on Sunday, May 21, hundreds of foodies will show up to party with the pigs, so to speak, as five chefs compete for bragging rights and the title of “Princess (or Prince) of Porc.” The event lasts from 4 to 7:30 p.m. and takes place at Hughes Manor, with ticket prices starting at $125 for general admission and $200 for VIP.
Though the event showcases an extensive lineup of food, wine, beer and cocktails, plus various forms of entertainment, the primary focus is on educating about local heritage breed pigs through discussion, visuals—and lots of delectable food featuring pork.
This year’s competitors are chefs Luis Roger of BCN Taste & Tradition, Bobby Matos of State of Grace, Felix Florez of Ritual, Manabu Horiuchi of Kata Robata, and Monica Pope of Beaver’s. All will be providing bites of their competition dishes to guests.
In addition to the competitors’ tastings, there will be a butchering demo by Jack Matusek of Raw Republic Meats, a ramen bar helmed by Jean-Philippe Gaston of Izakaya, a tartare bar from David Cordúa of Américas, a dessert bar from Rebecca Masson of Fluff Bake Bar and a slew of other opportunities to nosh and sip throughout the evening. Wine professionals will compete in the Somm Smackdown to prove who can make the best wine and pork pairing, while barkeeps will hash it out in the Punch Kings competition with their best bourbon punches.
Each chef will receive a whole pig from a Texas farmer one week prior to the competition and will have those days to prepare six dishes for judging and sampling. Though any chef is allowed to apply for the competition, only those who embody a specific culinary value set are invited to participate, explains Robert McKeown, a spokesperson for Cochon. These requirements include supporting safe, honest food and family farms, a history of direct work with heritage breed pork, and the ability to perform whole animal butchery.
This is the third year for Houston to host the event and McKeown says with Texas there is a natural fit because of the longstanding historical connection to the land and to the farm. “There’s already a very strong culture here and why it’s been such an easy place to come and set up in,” he says.
Houston is just one stop on Cochon 555’s annual 14-city US tour. It culminates in Chicago, where the winners from each city compete at the Grand Cochon in October. A portion of funds raised through the events go to the organization’s charity, Piggy Bank, which is a working farm that teaches farmers about heritage pork and connects them with resources for successful farming. “The local aspect is really about local farming communities. If we can raise awareness and facilitate connections—and if every year that helps get new farmers into the game—it really makes a difference,” says McKeown.