FIRE IT UP
It’s been seven years since Cochon 555 was established by founder Brady Lowe as a way to educate chefs and consumers about heritage breed pigs, as well as encourage the practice of nose-to-tail cookery.
The 10-city tour is a friendly-fire competition in which five local chefs duke it out for the title of “Prince/Princess of Porc” based on their utilization and talent cooking with a whole hog (sourced from local farms and ranches whenever possible). Every June during the FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen, the Grand Cochon (held this year on June 18 at the Viceroy Snowmass) serves as the finale of the tour, in which the winners from each city engage in a culinary throw down to become “King/Queen of Porc.”
The weekend isn’t just focused on pork, however. Snowmass will also be hosting Cochon 555’s epic Heritage Fire for the second year in a row. The whole-animal, wood-fired bacchanalia features 50 chefs from across the country cooking over 3,500 pounds of meat—from game birds and goat to seafood. The goal, explains Lowe, “Is to network consumers and chefs with responsible farmers raising honest and safe food, with purpose and passion.” Ticket sales help benefit charities like the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies (ACES) and Piggy Bank, a heritage breed pig sanctuary in Missouri. It is, says Lowe, “A great reason to come out and eat for a cause.”
The term “heritage” refers to livestock and poultry breeds similar to the ones used to help establish the agricultural economy of the colonies during the 17th and 18th centuries. The advent of modern agriculture has led to the development of a few select breeds of livestock and poultry, designed for maximum output, in order to meet global demand for commodity products such as eggs, milk and meat. Many heritage animals retain genetic traits such as disease resistance, tolerance to climatic extremes, mothering traits (sometimes lacking in modern breeds, who are often separated from their young at birth), and physical characteristics that make them better suited to specific geographical environments. Protecting heritage breed livestock ensures genetic diversity, as well as preventing the extinction of the historic breeds still in existence.
Heritage Fire will feature meat from local and regional ranches, including Rock Bottom Ranch, Mountain Primal Meat Co, McDonald Family Farm, Jersey Girl Milk Shares, as well as top producers of cheese, spirits (beware the bountiful whiskey and mezcal tastings and pairings), craft beer, ciders and wines. There’s a Punch Kings competition amongst leading mixologists, a pop-up butcher shop, and live music. Local chefs Will Nolan of Viceroy Snowmass (who also serves as Heritage Fire’s local liaison and chef coordinator) and Jim Butchart and Andrew Helsley of Aspen Skiing Company will be cooking, along with award-winning chef Alex Seidel of Fruition (Denver) and luminaries like Hillary Sterling of Vic’s (NYC), Alfredo Nogueira of Analogue (Chicago.
Besides supporting a worthy cause, Heritage Fire emerged last year as the highlight in a weekend full of incredible culinary events. The camaraderie, food, drink and easy vibe are a reflection of what it means to feed community. Don’t miss out.
Get your tickets for Heritage Fire and the Grand Cochon at cochon555.com. There will be free shuttles running from downtown Aspen up to Snowmass, schedule as follows:
2:00pm- 9:00pm service every 20 minutes from Wagner Park (corner of Monarch and Durant) to Base Village and visa-versa
10:30pm, 11:30pm & 12:30am returns from Base Village to Wagner Park (corner of Monarch and Durant)