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Salumeria Trots Off With 2012 Cochon 555 Pig Award

[Photo: Molly DeCoudreaux]

As Golden Gate Park was buzzing yesterday with the annual Bay to Breakers insanity, the fourth yearly celebration of all things pig, Cochon 555 , brought a different breed of fanaticism to the Fairmont Hotel across town. Fives chefs were given five different heritage pigs to spin into a "tasting menu" for all to judge. This year's competitive lineup of chefs was particularly impressive: Jason Fox of Commonwealth, Thomas McNaughton and Matthew Sigler of Salumeria, Nicholas Borzee of Bouche, Anthony Strong and Craig Stoll of Locanda, and Traci des Jardins of Jardiniere. After a very tight battle, and a healthy amount of wine and bourbon cocktails was consumed by all, the Salumeria men pulled ahead to win the title. Their team will go on to the Grand Cochon contest in Aspen on June 17.

1) Unlike years past, when chefs would bring up to 10 dishes to the table, this year each contestant was limited to six. Jason Fox maxed his out, combining four different pig preparations into one of his six plates.

2) Considering Salumeria executive chef Thomas McNaughton opened Central Kitchen, it was pretty awesome that he was even able to compete in Cochon 555 this year, let alone win. But McNaughton was spread even thinner than most people realized: on top of everything else, he had to go to a friend's wedding last night.

3) Salumeria was given one of the smaller pigs of the event, a "red wattle" from Walnut Keep Farm weighing in at about 130 pounds. In contrast, the Commonwealth team got a 300 pound monster "large black" from Prather Ranch to play with.

4) Contestants from 2011 were judges this year, rating each team on presentation, utilization and flavor. Not surprisingly, last year's winner Matthew Accarino said it was much better being on the judge's side of the table.

5) Salumeria won the pig prize, but the cutest kid award definitely went to Ravi Kapur, whose son Makoa couldn't get enough of the pig piñatas over Traci Des Jardins' station.

6) Commonwealth earned points for creativity with a liver mousse disguised inside a piercingly red gelee, made it look like a maraschino cherry, but Locanda's fried blood sausage arancini balls and Salumeria's miniature trotter with cherries were certainly crowd favorites.

7) It's always interesting to see what desserts come out of the night, and this year's sweets did not disappoint. Pig's blood was worked into a Commonwealth macaron, and Salumeria offered a piggy take on the s'more with belly marshmallow and lard caramel placed neatly over a square graham cracker.

8) In the judges room, founder Brady Lowe preached the gospel of heritage pig, noting that next year will be the fifth annual celebration. He's already plotting a Cochon 555 like no other for 2013.

· All Cochon 555 Coverage [~ ESF ~]


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