Do you love pork? I mean, really, really love it like you’d kinda like to marry it kind of love?
Then Cochon 555 could be for you. While nose-to-tail meat lust feels like a passé food trend, the culinary competition is actually a pretty great food event. Though the ticket price is a pretty steep $125 for general admission (and $200 for VIP, which gets you in an hour before the hungry hordes), it's worth it. And here's why I say so:
1. You'll be full. While perambulating around a ballroom sampling shmeckens is a model that’s had its day, Cochon 555 manages to pull it off. You'll taste samples from the competing chefs (Jorge Guzman of Surly who is the current reigning “Prince of Porc,” Thomas Kim of Rabbit Hole, J.D. Fratzke of the Strip Club, Grae Nonas who is rumored to no longer be working at Tulibee so if you’re hungry for his cooking, Cochon might be a good way to get some, and Justin Sutherland of Handsome Hog). Plus, they put out an impessive spread of cheeses from St. Paul Cheese Shop, giant Parma hams hanging lasciviously from hooks, and generally piles of pig everywhere in forms you hadn’t previously known possible, from ice cream to candy to cracklings the size of a tabletop. You get full at this event. Very full.
2. You’ll be drunk. Just as they roll out the pantry, they roll out the bar, and in addition to the chefs' competition, a bartender and sommelier competition means free-flowing cocktails, wine, and spirits. Barkeeps include representatives from Esker Grove, Lyn65, Handsome Hog, Tattersall, and Revival. Big booze labels like Buffalo Trace, Templeton Rye, and many others are on hand pouring big, boozy samples. You will be drunk. You will have to be careful not to become overly drunk.
3. It’s actually a party. Much of the local food glitterati attend the event, so if you’ve always wanted to rub shoulders (read: drink) with your fave chef, he’s likely to be here doing just that. Remember that Cochon is a ton of extra work for these chefs, who are also coming off one of the busiest weekends of the year (post-Valentine’s Day) so they’re likely to be running on fumes and Buffalo Trace. By the end of the night it’s a bit of a sloppy bacchanal, but who cares? What else do you have to look forward to but Monday morning? On second thought, better take Monday morning off.
4. It’s for a good cause. All partying aside, the cause for the competition is to highlight the merits of heritage breed hogs (and hopefully, by proxy, decrease the consumption of commodity pork, which has some very sad side effects). These heritage breed hogs are responsibly raised on family farms, and the resulting product is delicious and sustainable.
5. We are told that tickets for Sunday’s event are close to selling out, but there are a few left, so if you’re in the mood to get truly lusty with some pig, then you should get some. Go here for a full list of tickets, prices, and events ($400 "bespoke" tickets include a Saturday pre-game multi-course dinner at Spoon & Stable.)
February 19, 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
601 First Ave. N., Minneapolis