The Cochon555 culinary competition returns to Chicago April 24 with a one-of-a-kind stand-up tasting reception featuring five chefs cooking five heritage breed pigs in a friendly competition for a cause. Upping its commitment to the good food movement, this year’s tour will benefit Piggy Bank, a genetic sanctuary that will provide free heritage breed pigs and business plans to emerging family farms. Celebrating its 8th Annual 18-city tour, Cochon555 is dedicated to uniting 16,000 guests across the country with local farmers, renowned chefs, prominent winemakers, restaurateurs, craft brewers and distillers. Together, they are raising awareness for honest food producers, responsible farming and the first open-source agriculture platform.

This year’s competing chefs include Host Chef Cory Morris of Rural Society, Sarah Grueneberg of Monteverde Restaurant & Pastificio, Alfredo Nogueira of Analogue, Phillip Foss of EL Ideas, and Sarah Rinkavage of Lula Cafe. The five chefs will prepare a maximum of six dishes from one whole hog and their utilization will help them win votes from a crowd of hungry gourmands and celebrated judges. In addition to the 36 dishes prepared from locally-raised pigs, guests will feast on educational experiences featuring boutique wines and culinary cocktails paired with delicious bites. The winner of the regional event will be announced as the “Prince or Princess of Porc” and go on to compete for the national title of “King or Queen of Porc” at Grand Cochon, the tour finale, held at the Viceroy in Snowmass/Aspen on June 18.

Guests can enjoy more culinary programming beyond the 36 competition dishes at this fairy-tale pig event, including, the TarTare Bar with Creekstone Farms, “Luxe Butter Bar” with Antica Napa Valley, the Artisan Cheese Bar featuring the team from Pastoral Artisan Cheese, Cypress Grove Chevre, Coach Farm, Parrano, and 34 Crisps, a Tapas Bar featuring Wines from Rioja and the Seafood Shelf with Swift & Sons featuring Gulfish and Rappahannock River Oysters. Voters get a ticket to Taste the New Ramen Bar paired with the stunning Wines of Germany and Sun Noodle followed by the Pop-Up Pie Shop featuring Bang Bang Pie Shop right before the Awards Ceremony. Additionally, guests will have the opportunity to take home delicious heritage breed pork at the Pop-Up Butcher Shop, a retail experience raising money for Piggy Bank with the support of Williams-Sonoma and Hedley & Bennett. The beverage program includes Cochon555’s Punch Kings local barkeep competition featuring Breckenridge Distillery and “The Welcome Punch” reception featuring Buffalo Trace. Wine tastings are back in a big way in 2016 with the “Five Winemakers” including sought-after wines from Paul Draper (Ridge Wines), Rajat Parr (Sandhi Wines), Abe Schoener (Scholium Project), Jeff Pisoni (Pisoni Vineyards), Pax Mahle (Pax Wine Cellars) and special guest Matt Courtney of Arista Winery, a spotlight Sommelier Smackdown and tastings featuring Lake Sonoma Winery, Azzurro Wine Company and Tenuta Sassoregale. The Perfect Margarita Experience includes a tasting of hand-crafted luxury tequilas from Don Julio including 1942 and the mobile Heritage Rum Cart featuring Rhum Clément, Diplomatico and Plantation Rum will travel through the crowd while guests sip libations at the “TIKI BAR” featuring The Perfect Puree of Napa Valley. The “Chupito” Mezcal Experience returns featuring Don Amado, Fidencio, Mezcales de Leyenda, Koch el Mezcal, La Niña del Mezcal, La Venenosa and Mezcal Derrumbes. Bourbon lovers rejoice with the “Perfect Manhattan” featuring Eagle Rare and Buffalo Trace finished with Luxardo cherries with a special treat from Creminelli Fine Meats and the Smoked Old Fashioned featuring Breckenridge Bourbon with the support of Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao. Right before the awards, everyone is invited to experience “The Last Word” featuring Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur and Junipero. Low-proof favorites include Martinez Lacuesta’s Vermut Bar and a crisp lineup of brews from Virtue Cider. DRY Sparkling is offering a non-alcoholic option with their lineup of culinary sodas.

On April 22, the weekend takeover commences with a pair of guest chef dinners featuring five notable chefs to benefit Piggy Bank. These unique dinners bring together chefs, world-renowned winemakers and beverage experts to create a multi-course, interactive dining experience where guests have the opportunity to interact with the participating chefs. On Friday, Nathan Sears of The Radler will jump start the weekend with the Late Night Asian Speakeasy in an all-inclusive guest chef feast paying homage to Chinese, Sichuan, Korean, Thai and Japanese after-hour establishments known to inspire great kitchens across the country. On Saturday, Rob Levitt of Local Foods/Butcher & Larder will host Chef’s Course Dinner Series, a refined three-hour guest chef culinary experience featuring Niman Ranch that begins with a reception featuring a selection of passed hors d’oeuvres followed by a seated dinner and premium wine pairings from Kettmeir. Both dinners will be limited to 40 seats each night, tickets are available online at $125 per person and 100 percent of the proceeds will benefit Piggy Bank. Additionally, ticket buyers are welcome to sign-up for Chef’s Course, Cochon555’s annual rewards program with over 100-plus restaurants participating nationwide.

“I’m excited about all the new partners in 2016 who support family farming and independent business. The Cochon555 Tour is now a movement, from hosting celebrated culinary events and dinners all over North America to reaching a global audience with the news of the first open-source agricultural model. The tour is dedicated to helping family farmers succeed, period,” says founder Brady Lowe. “This doesn’t exist anywhere in the world, and for the first time in human history, a culinary tour has emerged to save endangered species on a global scale. Together, with some of the best chefs and partners in hospitality, we amplify the conservation of heritage pork once again, which for many is a ‘gateway’ to a larger appreciation of where our food comes from and the people that raise it, leading to more mindful eating and safer food choices for our youth. We can’t wait to for amazing weekend in Chicago with two dinners raising money for Piggy Bank, a 501(c)(3) project of the Giving Back Fund.” 

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