Somewhere around 500 pork fanatics and industry types filled the Julia Morgan Ballroom yesterday for the third annual Cochon 555 pig battle. Five local chefs: David Bazirgan of Fifth Floor, Matthew Accarrino of SPQR, Ravi Kapur of Prospect, Brandon Jew of Bar Agricole and David Varley of Michael Mina, were given a whole pig to butcher and prepare in myriad ways. After a grueling effort, Accarrino nabbed first place and will go on to the Grand Cochon in Aspen on June 19th.
1) Winner Accarrino rallied his relatively small SPQR team to make testa pastrami with blood-laced black bread, stuffed foot with lentil puree and all manner of pig madness. But our insiders really reeled over his desserts, including a pork pastry with coffee bacon cream, maple lard glaze and 6-hour-smoked bacon and a lard and date steamed cake with chiccaron garnish.
2) The format was different this year. At the last two events, judges were secluded, but this year all twenty of them walked around to each of the five contestant's tables to hear the chef's spiel on his dishes.
3) Baz won in the numbers category, with about 10 different pork preps on the Fifth Floor plate.
4) In the concurrent butchery contest, which spans all nine Cochon markets, Local rep Chris Arentz of Avedano's battled against Tracey Smaciarz of Heritage Meats in Rocheshter, WA. The curious will have to wait until the Grand Cochon to learn of the winner.
5) The afterparty took place at Bloodhound, where Whole Beast chef John Fink created a pork-filled take on the Manhattan cocktail: confit porklet, sticky rice and Templeton rye caramel, topped with pork crackling and served in a waffle cone.
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