The nationwide Cochon 555 tour is a celebration of all things pork. The heavyweight cooking competition pairs local chefs with heritage pork farmers and lets them work their nose-to-tail magic.
The animated event rolled into D.C. last night at a new location (the Loews Madison hotel downtown), and the 2016 slate of competitors included "Top Chef" alums Jennifer Carroll of Requin and Marjorie Meek-Bradley of Ripple, Roofer's Union and the forthcoming Smoked & Stacked; Anthony Lombardo of The Hamilton, Louis Goral of Rural Society and Jonah Kim — who also competed in 2015 — of the newly-launched Yona. Kim was crowned the winner by the end of the night.
Kim will travel to Aspen in June to face the winners from nine other cities for an all-out pork battle. Read on for some observations from Cochon 55 2016.
1. All hail team pigshark: Chef Jennifer Carroll's team embraced it's namesake with a "pigshark" mascot. It's a natural fit given that Cochon is a celebration of pork and "requin" is French for shark. Carroll even brought a shark-shaped boozy super-soaker, and this Eater writer was among the victims.
2. As cold as ice: The Hamilton crew pulled out all the stops with a pig-shaped carved ice luge. Among the ingredients in the liquor mix were pig-washed pisco, chenin blac, and tarragon syrup.
3. Sunday, Bloody Sunday: The Requin team adapted its popular brown butter ice cream for the Cochon 555 event by serving a pig's blood ice cream. It took a few weeks to get the mouthfeel and rosy color right, the team said, but the result was certainly worth it, when served with the "Porc-iterol" profiterole-inspired dessert.
4. Motto wars: Two teams, Majorite Meek-Bradley of Ripple and Louis Goral of Rural Society both claimed "I like Pig Butts And I Can Not Lie" as their team motto, complete with t-shirts. Neither won the night's big prize, so it remains to be seen who laid claim to the pig butt championship. Team Ripple had a pig wearing a rainbow tutu as a mascot, while team Rural Society had an ice sculpture.
5. Punch drunk: Punch is back in style and the evening reflected as much. Buffalo Trace and Breckenridge distilleries were among the evenings punch sponsors, from a trio of welcome punches served out of turkey basters to chef creations with ingredients like mushroom-infused sherry and bourbon-spiked cold brewed coffee.
6. Here's the beef: Mandu's Danny Lee, last year's D.C. Cochon champion returned to helm a special beef tartare bar sourced by Creekstone Farms.
7. She has the meats: Chef Marjorie Meek-Bradley tells Eater that she expects that Smoked & Stacked, her new pastrami-focused quick service spot, will open in Shaw in three to four weeks.
8. Brookland brews: Right Proper Brewing Company was on hand with pours of its Baron Corvo biere be garde, which is being produced exclusively at its Brookland location. The beer is fermented in French oak barrels and comes in at 7 percent ABV. Look for it exclusively at the Brookland production house and select bars around D.C.
9. Birthday celebration: Chef Bryan Voltaggio was on hand to celebrate his 40th birthday, indulging in a pig-shaped cake among other confections. He also invited hearty souls to the Cochon after party for late-night eats and karaoke at Range, his restaurant in Friendship Heights.
10. Prince of Porc redemption: Chef Jonah Kim of Yona notched the Cochon victory after coming up short as a competitor in 2015. His crowd-pleasing menu included dishes like mapo tofu with Szechuan pork butt and sour sausage tartar. He told Eater his goal the second time around was simply to cook the best possible food.
Editor's Note: The original story incorrectly defined "Requin."