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Amuse Cochon

Amuse Cochon

Photo from Amusecochon.com

Leona Taylor | Chef's Blade

We spent a blissful Sunday afternoon wallowing with the pigs so to speak at the Silverado Country Club event “Amuse Cochon” also now known as Cochon 555.

The event concept, presented by Taste Network, is a friendly competition featuring five chefs, five pigs, and five wineries. Each chef was given an entire Heritage hog, each one a different breed from a different farm. With cute names like “Wolly Pig” and “Sandy Back” some might find it hard to enjoy “Offal Bologna On-a-stick” or “Pickled Extremities” but not this happy camper.

I favored the Gloucestire Old Spot from Hudson Ranch as prepared by Taylor Boetticher and his crew from Napa’s Fatted Calf – the ultra deluxe charcuterie store in Napa’s new Oxbow Market. His simple and classic preparations included handmade sausage, rich dark liver pâté, and the most outrageously fine ham of swine to ever to hit my mouth.

The competition was also for a cause, with a portion of proceeds going to Napa’s Fire Explorer’s youth program, a project to help youth explore career interests in firefighting firsthand.

Amuse Cochon/Cochon 555 was conceived in Atlanta, Georgia and is the brainchild of Brady Lowe of Taste Network, a company which offers experiential services from cooking classes and demonstrations to large-scale events and wine tastings. Future Cochon 555 events are still being planned for New York, Chicago, and locations unknown.

In the end, with bellies swollen and hearts high, a decision had to be made. Celebrity chef judges such as Rob Lam of San Francisco’s Butterfly Restaurant shot the fat over who should be crowned the “Prince of Pork”. Regular citizen attendees voted for their favorites in the creative, classic, and overall best categories.

The winners:

• Chris Cosentino, Incanto and Boccalone – Best Overall

• Ryan Farr, Orson – Creative

• Allan Benton, Benton Country Hams – Classic

Wineries such as Anderson’s Conn Valley and Saddleback Cellars kept the crowds well lubricated till the bitter end and a few lingered late into the night at the bar where bacon was the topic du jour.

Be sure to visit Chris Cosentino’s website and blog about all things offal at www.offalgood.com. For a complete description of heritage hogs visit the Breeds of Livestock Project. Information on future Cochon 555 events will be available soon at www.amusecochon.com.