In January 2015, the Andaz 5th Avenue in midtown Manhattan was the proud host of the seventh-annual Cochon 555 – one of New York’s most innovative food festivals and the country’s most-talked-about culinary competition. The concept of Cochon 555 is simple, focused on five top chefs, five heritage breed pigs and five winemakers. The aim is to celebrate sustainable farming and the good food movement in a culinary event quite unlike any other. It’s also a chance for meat lovers to sample some amazing dishes from some of America’s best chefs.
Going the whole hog
The Andaz’ chef Mike Santoro was one of the chefs chosen to take part in the friendly competition at the kick-off Cochon 555 event in New York, where each participant had to create up to six dishes from the whole pig to win the hearts (and stomachs) of the judges–and the hungry crowd! The winner was crowned New York’s ‘Prince of Porc’ and will compete at New York’s Grand Cochon event later this year for the illustrious title of ‘King or Queen of Porc’.
More than 11 tonnes of heritage pork will be consumed over the feast’s 10-city tour, which welcomes many members of local farming communities. Heritage breed pigs are the pre-industrial food production pig that is recognisable by its unique taste. All of the meat has been raised in family farms with a focus on honest food and the quest for flavour. As with previous years, Cochon 555 aims to raise the profile of heritage breed pigs and educate key influencers so that they, in turn, can spread the word.
The New York event gave attendees unlimited food and drink with a selection of 36 dishes prepared ‘from nose to tail.’ In order to establish a really authentic culinary event, Cochon 555 welcomes champions of the good food movement, with prominent winemakers, chefs, bartenders, brewers and more all gathering to add to the festival taste sensation and celebrate responsible, sustainable family farming.
Swine and cheese
The all-inclusive stand-up reception featured tastings, pop-up culinary events and signature foodie experiences including a tartare bar, the ever-popular Artisan Cheese Shop and an oyster stand. There was plentiful opportunity for drinkers, too, with wine seminars, vintage whiskey tastings and micro brewed colas, paired with piggy-based delights such as spiced sweet pork buns or pork tacos. The event is always fun and lively and last year there was a pig’s head made entirely out of pork fat. This year, popular entertainment came from Erika Nakamura of The Breslin, who gave a live butchering demonstration to raise money for local causes.
Cochon 555 is an incredibly successful food and wine tasting event that has a real purpose: “to cultivate a long-term impact on the family farming of heritage breed pigs.” Every year, the tour donates thousands of dollars to local charities and heritage breed pigs and welcomes important figures from the hospitality industry. The idea of the ‘whole hog’ is to symbolize a better food system and to have farmers seek out chefs who wish to buy the whole animal. This event helps to convey that message and celebrate all things positive in the pig industry. It is dedicated to raising the bar for food festivals and getting people talking about this issue in order to establish a foundation for safer, more honest farming in the future. With widespread coverage in national media and more than half a million dollars invested in family farming, it seems that the event is fulfilling its ambitions.
Pride of New York
It will come as no surprise that the Andaz 5th Avenue, host to Cochon 555, is dedicated to goodness in the food industry. This five-star chic boutique hotel features its signature restaurant, The Shop; an intimate and extremely stylish eaterie that changes its menu year-round to ensure it always offers fresh seasonal produce. All of its ingredients are sourced from honest farmers and purveyors of fine foods from across New York State. The hotel has some of the largest, most luxurious guest rooms in the city and also boasts a fantastic location on 5th Avenue and 41st Street, near to all of New York’s most iconic attractions.