Nothing could have prepared us for the meat feast that was Sunday’s Cochon 555. In fact, we’re still recovering from the pig overload. The annual festival, which took place at the Loews Miami Beach Hotel this year, pit five local chefs against one another to create the tastiest pork dishes.
The winning chef would go on to Aspen, Colorado to represent South Florida at the main competition later this year: Grand Cochon. Fin & Feather’s Lindsay Autry took home the prize Sunday night and was crowned the 2015 Princess of Porc.
Autry and her Palm Beach outfit faced tough challenges from competing chefs Todd Erickson (Haven), Richard Hales (Sakaya Kitchen), Jason Pringle (db Bistro) and Xavier Torres (Drunken Dragon). Each of the chefs used a whole pig to make creative dishes and win over the crowd and judges, who chowed down like there was no tomorrow.
When we walked in, we couldn’t help but notice Chef Hales’ gigantic booth … so obviously we had to start there. It’s here that we found some amazing pork knuckle tacos — and one of our top plates of the night. If these bites are a sign of things to come once Centro Taco opens in Downtown, we’ll be first in line.
Another notable dish came from Chef Erickson, who put together some delectable carnitas tamales for us to munch on. His pork cinnamon bun dessert also helped balance out all the salt we consumed with some sweetness (a much welcomed break for our taste buds).
Despite these strong dishes, Chef Autry’s offerings were just too damn good. Prior to this event, we had no idea Fin & Feather existed, so we want to thank Cochon 555 for opening our eyes to this deliciousness. The Top Chef alum pulled out all the stops with her five dishes; the foie gras torchon and blood vinaigrette made us feel things we had never felt before (in a good way). And the porchetta di testa … no words. As much as we would have liked the Cochon crown to stay in the 305, the 561 definitely earned it.
There were a lot of other things going on throughout the evening besides the competition. The Perfect Manhattan Experience lived up to its name and provided guests with a very cool collectible jar for their perfect adult beverage. Another big attraction was the Creekstone Farms TarTare Bar that featured the namesake plate prepared by last year’s winner Jose Mendin of Pubbelly.
Oh, and did we mention that we watched a pig get tattooed on stage? Because we totally did. Some special guests also joined the party later on. Alter’s Brad Kilgore had a surprise pop-up that served some pig-tastic treats like pork confit tater tots (OMG). The Miami Smokers team came out to the event, too. Their pop-up butcher shop raised $880 that will go toward supporting Johnson & Wales culinary students.
By the time we left the event, we almost had to have someone roll us out. The decadent feast not only left us satisfied but also a little more knowledgeable. One of the big missions of Cochon 555 is to educate people about heritage breed pigs and the good food movement. They succeeded.
Through speaking with the different experts at the festival, we had our eyes opened to a different — and often overlooked — side of the animal. It’s nice to experience an event that’s equal parts fun and educational. With that said, this was our first Cochon 555 and hopefully won’t be our last. Next time, we’ll bring an extra stomach.
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