Cochon 555 Returns to Houston, Showcasing 5 Top Chefs in a Pandemic-Era Format
For years, Cochon 555 has been an eagerly awaited annual event. Established in 2008 to educate chefs and diners about heritage pig breeds, this touring celebration normally gives attendees the opportunity to sample whiskey punches, wine and lots of heritage pork dishes prepared by some of Houston’s best chefs. In the past, the event has attracted large crowds to venues such as the Four Seasons Houston, site of last year’s festival. This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, large gatherings are neither a good idea nor allowed. However, the organizers of Cochon 555 have adapted and pork lovers will still be able to enjoy multiple dishes from the participating chefs, who have each partnered with a local hog farmer.
This year, the event is called CARRYOUT WITH COCHON555 and takes place from September 30 through October 4. Each night features a different chef and diners have the choice of either virtual tasting experiences via Zoom or, in some cases, attending a socially distanced dine-in event. Those whose choose the virtual option can either pick up their food the day of the event (times vary; see below for details and note that masks are required) or have the meals delivered within a 25-mile radius of the restaurant for an additional fee.
This year’s Cochon 555 line up is:
- Wednesday, 9/30: Pedro Angel Garcia of El Meson Restaurant, partnered with Falcon Lake Farms, pick up 3 to 5 p.m. Dine-in available.
- Thursday, 10/1: Jess DeSham Timmons of Cherry Block Craft Butcher + Kitchen, partnered with Falcon Lake Farms, pick up 2 to 4 p.m. Dine-in available.
- Friday, 10/2: Dominick Lee of Alligator Pear Hospitality (formerly Poitín), partnered with Whitehurst Heritage Farms, pick up 12 to 5 p.m. at Politan Row. Dine-in available.
- Saturday, 10/3: Gabriel Medina of Click Virtual Food Hall, partnered farm details to be announced, pick up 2 to 5 p.m.
- Sunday, 10/4: Brandon Silva of Wooster’s Garden and forthcoming restaurant Degust, partnered with Chubby Dog Farm, pick up 3 to 5 p.m.
In addition, to the heritage pork being raised on local farms, other ingredients are being sourced from Texas ranchers and growers. Also, 80% of ticket proceeds are going to support the participating restaurants, which is good news for local eateries who are continuing to struggle during the coronavirus crisis.
While the dine-in option is available at El Meson an Politan Row, both in Rice Village, and Cherry Block Craft Butcher + Kitchen in Bravery Chef Hall downtown, diners who choose to go virtual (available from all five participants) will enjoy a 45-minute, interactive Zoom experience that includes cooking one of the featured dishes with the chef; all other courses come pre-made.
Regardless of which option participants choose, the tastings comes with paired wines and cocktails and a special charcuterie, pâté and cheese board from Les Trois Petit Cochons in New York. For drinks, participants can choose from a bottle of red or white wine by either Patz & Hall in Sonoma or Bodegas Ontañón in the Rioja region of Spain. Plus, each chef is aslo offering at least one cocktail kit or pre-mixed cocktail featuring spirits from Buffalo Trace, Desert Door Texas Sotol or Wheatley Vodka. Sparkling water automatically comes with each meal.
“People are hungry to connect, so transitioning into something virtual was a natural reallocation of the brand,” said Brett Friedman, Partner & CEO of Agency 21 Consulting, which now owns and operates Cochon555. He adds, “By inviting food lovers to enjoy a meal prepared by Houston’s top culinary minds, while engaging in intimate cooking demonstrations, we are still able to generate excitement while supporting our local restaurant community.”
Tickets are $115 per person or $200 per couple and can be purchased online. Meal kits can be picked up at the participating chef’s restaurant or be delivered in the Houston area for $30.
Phaedra Cook has written about Houston’s restaurant and bar scene since 2010. She was a regular contributor to My Table magazine (now closed) and was the lead restaurant critic for the Houston Press for two years, eventually being promoted to food editor. Cook founded Houston Food Finder in November 2016 and has been its editor and publisher ever since.