Cochon 555 is a national cooking competition centered around sustainable pig farming. The 555 represents the five chefs, pigs, and wineries involved in the competition. The competition itself is held in 10 cities in the US, with the winning chef earning the right to compete in Aspen for a trip to Spain and other sweet stuff. Minneapolis was a featured city for the first time ever and it was an opportunity to see 5 former FDC spots (Corner Table, Heyday, Spoon and Stable, Tilia, and La Belle Vie) compete for ultimate nom-itude. Brad and I were not passing that up. Congrats to CT on the win! After all was said and done, we were very pleased with our decision to attend Cochon 555, because there is nothing quite like it.
There is nothing quite like being told that the event would be very free-form and discouraging of lines, and then having literally the first thing you see be a sign that says “Welcome! Line Starts Here.” On the other hand, if all lines were surrounded by punch bowls of whiskey, bite size snacks, and cider samples, we’d all wait in lines a lot more often.
There is nothing quite like having a conversation about pacing yourself through a meal, and then immediately forgetting said conversation when you house a huge plate of sliced meats in the entryway.
There is nothing quite like watching a pig be butchered right in front of you while the song “Shimmy Shimmy Ya” by the Wu Tang Clan blasts through the speakers. To those not initiated in the ways of the Killa Beez, that song starts with Ol’ Dirty Bastard repeating some form of the phrase “Baby I like it raw” over and over again. Brilliant.
There is nothing quite like seeing a man in a full suit with a wine glass attached to his neck via a coozie lanyard using a lime green selfie stick to document the event.
There is nothing quite like the overwhelming feeling of seeing many of your favorite chefs dole out a basically infinite amount of food. The email we received from the Cochon 555 organizers stated there was two pounds of food budgeted per person.
There is nothing quite like marveling at those who chose to consume two pounds of alcohol instead of two pounds of gourmet food.
There is nothing quite like running into Gavin Kaysen of Spoon and Stable, and having him REMEMBER YOU FROM DINNER A WEEK EARLIER AND THEN ASK YOU ABOUT YOUR FOOD BLOG.
There is nothing quite like our favorite dish of the evening, the banana tapioca and pork belly concoction from Gavin’s team that we both went back for a second time. I mean we went back for a lot of things a second time, but that one earned our vote for best dish of the night.
There is nothing quite like eating said banana tapioca and pork belly concoction and have that not even remotely be the strangest thing you ate all night. That award goes to the bourbon and pig brain jello shot from Heyday (disgusting, but also awesome). Honorable mention: foie gras ice cream sandwich by La Belle Vie, bacon popcorn by someone who should send their unholy creation back whence it came.
There is nothing quite like watching the folks from Travail, who after running out of shells for their pork tartare tacos (delicious, by the way), started just scooping tartare onto the hands of willing participants. Brad and I chose to watch and laugh, mostly because we had each had three tacos already.
There is nothing quite like quadruple fisting a wine glass full of beer, a tiny mason jar of mezcal, a slightly bigger mason jar full of Manhattan, and a glass of water.
Seriously, check that thing out. And yes, we have a poster of Doug Mientkiewicz on our fridge.
There is nothing quite like feeling incredibly full due to not being able to pace yourself whatsoever, and then seeing another pig rolled out to be carved up into barbeque pork sandwiches. It took some liquid courage from the Manhattan to convince me I wanted that (no it didn’t), but I’ll be damned if that wasn’t an amazing sandwich.
There is nothing quite like really taking a hard look at yourself and your incredible lack of self control right before an army of servers brings out endless trays of pork-themed desserts. I mean, I wasn’t not going to try the chocolate pork bread pudding, bacon popcorn, and mini donuts, right?
There is nothing quite like eating something and pathetically repeating the sentence “Why does this have to be so good?” over and over again.
There is nothing quite like listening to a bartender that had just won a $1000 bottle of whiskey try to be convinced to pour said whiskey into her trophy and pass it around. Sadly, this did not happen (well done on the drinks though, Heyday!).
There is nothing quite like having a back-and-forth “conversation” consisting solely of “Ugh”, “Oof”, “Argh”, and other assorted noises for several minutes as you experience pork shock, something you didn’t know existed and also just made up.
There is nothing quite like the sweet, sweet solace provided by the rumbling of a city bus jostling the food in your insides into the small amount of unused crevices in your digestive tract.
There is nothing quite like Cochon 555. To quote the great Nathan Hale, “I only regret, that I have but one stomach to abuse.” That being said, I would do this all over again in a (slowly deadening) heartbeat.