Cochon 555 | Party report + photos
I just drank a milkshake made of pig's blood was my major takeaway from Sunday's Cochon 555 cocktail party at the Four Seasons. A local prelude to the Grand Cochon at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen in June, chefs from Mexique, the Girl & the Goat, Nightwood, Ria and the soon-to-open Trenchermen were each given a heritage pig and told to prepare it "nose to tail," a mandate they embraced, well, whole-hog. G&tG's Stephanie Izard prepared a lineup of bites riffing on fast food chains; the pig's blood milkshake was actually a gelato "Blizzard," just more liquified than its Dairy Queen brethren, with pork-fat chocolate cake waiting at the bottom. (DQ, consider yourself trumped.) Pig's blood also showed up in a soup from Mike Sheerin of the Trenchermen, while Ria's Danny Grant chose to do a pig's head croquette among his dishes.
As the evening's host, chef Kevin Hickey of new Four Seasons restaurant Allium headed up a panel of judges (including HotChocolate's Mindy Segal and encased meat mogul Doug Sohn), who pooled their votes with those of Cochon guests to name a—wait for it—Prince of Porc [sic]. Jason Vincent of Nightwood won our vote by doing the impossible: improving upon Nightwood's signature bacon butterscotch donuts. How? The addition of a soft-scrambled egg housing a hidden burst of hollandaise. Vincent was named the night's winner, and will compete at the Aspen event. Time Out's unofficial award for cutest presentation goes to Mexique's Carlos Gaytan, who topped one dish with tortilla chips cut in the shape of pigs.
The most fun part—besides watching the Butcher & Larder's Rob Levitt break down a massive swine in the middle of a ballroom typically reserved for weddings and conferences—may have been chatting with the farmer who provides Izard's pigs, who had the stature of Hagrid in Harry Potter and the demeanor of Roald Dahl's BFG. At Rustik Rooster Farms in Readlyn, Iowa, he crossbreeds Meshian pigs, an incredibly fatty Chinese variety, with leaner hogs to produce what he calls the perfect mix. The meaty bacon atop Izard's fare was proof enough that he's right.