Cochon 555 – Felt so good, at least it did yesterday…

After seeing the hordes stuffing themselves with pig and drink, I am relieved to know that the all important health care bill passed in the House. I had the great honor of being a judge at the Cochon 555 event. For the uninitiated, we are talking about a premier professional cooking competition.  Why 555? 5 Wines! 5 Chefs! 5 Pigs!

I couldn’t believe my good fortune. I started this amateur cook off thing as a diversion and now I am getting fed by some of the best chefs in New York for free!. Who knew being broke could be so fun, yeah! I must thank Brady Lowe. I did not even get a chance to introduce myself, which is probably a good thing because at some point in the evening I became shit-faced.  I do not get belligerent, just chatty, loud, and an inflated sense of my sense of humor – make sense? When did I become such a light weight? I only drank 5 cups of beer, 5 glasses of wine, 5 infused whiskeys. I appreciate that I got to eat before going down the devil’s path.

Using both hands for optimal drinking

Using both hands for optimal drinking

Unlike other events I have judged there was a lot of fan fare. We were sequestered to a side room where we sat a huge frickin table. It looked like a table from a 15th century castle: good/bad – I don’t know. When I looked around the room, everyone I saw was a big part of NYC food culture. Rachel Wharton of Edible Manhattan and Brooklyn, Mylan da butcher, Josh Ozersky of the internet, etc. I had the luck of sitting next to Garrett Oliver the brewmaster of Brooklyn Breweries. The man knows his beer, he is no bullshit. Plus, I didn’t realize how much he cooked.

But it is all about the food, each chef had a pig and was judged on Utilization, Presentation, and Taste. They all had their strengths. In my opinion, there was a clear winner. First to present was Michael Canora of Hearth.

Canora - Hearth

Canora - Hearth

He gave us the pig from nose to tail. He utilize the entire beast from fried heart and kidney risotto to a wonderful chocolate ravioli. There were at least 8 tastes on that plate. Second came Corwin Kave of Fatty Cue which I thought of as an odd move went with one dish to sum it all up. Bold move!

Fatty Cue

Corwin Kave - Fatty Cue

I thought it was a wonderful dish, but I think he suffered coming right on the heals of Canora. I was really looking forward to seeing what Mark Ladner of Del Posto had in store, but I became worried when  he showed up with one dish as well. My dream of pigging out on pig seemed in doubt.  Ladner’s dish was a memorable 100 layer lasagna, packed with porkiness. The texture of the pasta undeniably perfect. The dish was served cold, on purpose, but I felt that left it slightly underseasoned. I missed the pork’s unctuousness.  It was served atop a intense tomato ‘sauce’. Arriving fourth, was Gavin Kaysen who won my second place vote.

GAVIN KAYSEN – Café Boulud

GAVIN KAYSEN – Café Boulud

A great and diverse selection of pork, his best work, I thought, was his charcuterie. His pork pie put Myers to shame, no HP sauce necessary!

They saved the best for last with Adam Kaye of Blue Hill at Stone Barns.

Adam Kaye of Blue Hill at Stone Barns

A little back story, I worked with Adam when I was at Blue Hill. He was actually my boss.  Oh how the tables have turned. I promised to be impartial once I saw him on the Chef list. I am not ass-kissing when I say I know how well he cooks.

Face Bacon

Face Bacon

Fried Baloney

Adam Kaye's Fried Baloney

He had me at fried baloney. He has the ability to bring together unique combinations with flawless technique. His pate had a unexpected lightness that worked well with the crisp bitter chocolate wafer. Mazel Tov Adam – yours was the best.

As for the rest of the evening – drinking – oy vey 😦

5 Responses to “Cochon 555 – Felt so good, at least it did yesterday…”

  1. 1 Ted March 23, 2010 at 10:02 am

    Thanks for posting, glad to know you still live.

    And please shave, you are starting to look like a culinary Dr. House.

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    I happen to like the scruffy look

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