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Scenes From Last Night's Boozy, Porky Cochon 555 in NYC

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Farmerie's staff rushed the stage
Farmerie's staff rushed the stage
[Photos: Greg Morabito/Raphael Brion]

Last night, the third annual New York date of Cochon555, the "Super Bowl of pork," was held on the frigid, snowy banks of the Hudson River at The Lighthouse at Chelsea Piers. Five ace chefs — Peter Hoffman (Savoy), Brad Farmerie (Public), George Mendes (Aldea), Sean Rembold (Marlow & Sons), and Bill Telepan (Telepan) — were given five heritage breed pigs to create meals to pair with five wines for a crowd of meat hungry gourmands and a panel of industry experts who would crown one chef The Prince of Porc.

It was a close heat, but in the end Brad Farmerie and his crew from Public got the honors, and rightly so: they dished out not only a number of expertly cooked and sauced slabs of meat, but also sublime pastries (including a pig's blood popsicle) and a pork-infused cocktail. Along with a sweet pig-topped trophy, Farmerie will now get to compete with the winning chefs from the other cities hosting Cochon555 events later this year at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen. Onto the hangover observations!

The Food

There were pork dishes of every shape, size, and color last night, but at no one point in the evening was it easy to say which chef would emerge victorious.

Bill Telepan (Telepan) did two plates, one of Hungarian-inspired charcuterie and sauerkraut, the other of more traditional American nibbles, including an awesome pulled pork on a perfect biscuit.

George Mendes (Aldea) produced the most handsome and delicately composed plates of the evening. His Portuguese-inspired pork shoulder confit, tripe and ribs were some of the first dishes we heard raves for last night, but his remarkably light pork fat beignets were perhaps the most popular single item of the event.

Savoy's Peter Hoffman went for a sampling of rustic, old-American porcine fare, including a crackerjack dumpling dish.

Public's Brad Farmerie had two of the most buzzed about creations: a cocktail with a roll of slab bacon skewered on top, and a bite-sized black pudding wrapped in flake pastry.

And Sean Rembold of Marlow & Sons cranked out the plates with the most variety: headcheese, boudin blanc, pastrami, pulled pork and bacon, each nicely complimented by a sauce, starch or dressing.

Inside the Judging Room

The judges sat at a massive 25-seat table, sectioned off from the rest of the space. Event workers were positioned at both entrances to the room to ensure that no pesky spectators or rival chefs were allowed inside to eavesdrop. Every 40 minutes or so, one toque and his team of workers moved in their speed racks full of composed plates, then announced and served each dish and drink pairing. At the beginning of the evening, the room was quiet, the atmosphere, tense. By the time the third chef presented their dish, the big table had the feel of a Sunday supper. These were, after all, essentially a group of industry friends doing what they love best: eating, drinking, and talking about food. Savoy's Peter Hoffman had the most convivial dish presentation — he knew it was a party, and wanted everyone to have a good time.

Industry Roll-Call

Overall, the event had the feel of an industry bash, although, for the most part, the big names in attendance were either the chefs cooking the food, or the judges themselves. The faces at the big table included: Mark Ladner (Del Posto), Marco Canora (Hearth), master meat man Pat LaFrieda, Rachel Wharton (Edible Communities), Eatocracy's Kat Kinsman, Mitchell Davis (James Beard House), Corwin Kave (Fatty Crab/Fatty 'Cue), Josh Ozersky (Time/Ozersky.TV), Bobby Hellen and Christian Pappanicholas (Resto), The Meat Hook's Tom Mylan, and others.

The Vibe on the Floor

The big, early lines were for Peter Hoffman and Brad Farmerie's tables, although at one point Team Aldea had a fairly epic queue in front of them. In what is a considerable feat for an event like this, no table ran out of food, either. Surely by the end of the night the choice goodies (Aldea's beignets, Public's black pudding pies) were gone, but attendees kept eating right up until the minute the winner was announced. And, actually, the food kept flowing after that too: the team from Bobby Helen and Christian Pappanicholas's Resto started passing around chicharrón and chocolate canapes, and, in a bold move, they also rolled out another giant spit-roasted pig, with a number of sauces and freshly made waffles.

After Farmerie took his victory lap, there was even talk of a family meal for all the chefs in attendance, and another large format pig feast across town at the Resto after-party. As far as food fests go, Cohon555 was also extremely well-lubricated: the wine kept flowing, as did the rye and St. Germain cocktails.

Hot Looks from Hot Cook

On a style note, a few of the chefs brought their A-Game last night. Brad Farmerie and his team were all decked out in sharp black ties and clean whites, looking like some sort of group of knife-wielding 1930s barbers. Mark Ladner, a tall drink of water, rocked an awesome trapper hat, jacket/t-shirt combo, and green sneakers. Sean Rembold and his crew kept it clean and neat, and Bill Telepan proudly wore a Jets cap, in solidarity with the other big team competing last night.

· Cochon 555 [Official Site]
· All Cochon 555 Coverage on Eater [-E-]

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