Yesterday afternoon, hundreds of New Yorkers who didn't care about football flocked to the fourth annual Cochon 555, the culinary competition and tasting where five chefs cook five heritage breed pigs, with pairings from five winemakers (Eater was a media sponsor). This year's lineup: Marc Forgione (Restaurant Marc Forgione), Bobby Hellen (Resto/The Cannibal), Ralf Kuettel (Trestle on Tenth), Shaunna Sargent (Betto), and Damon Wise (Monkey Bar). The big winner of the evening was Marc Forgione, who will now go on to compete against the wining chefs from nine other cities at Grand Cochon at the Aspen Food & Wine Classic this summer.
A lot of bourbon was consumed last night, and there were chicharones literally everywhere. Here are some hangover observations:
1) A few menu highlights from the evening: the team from Betto made a killer slow-braised pork shoulder that was served over fingerling potatoes; the guys from Trestle on Tenth produced some remarkable charcuterie; Damon Wise turned out an intriguing pork custard served in a whole egg shell; and the Resto team served several delicious bites, including a tiny, folded pork crepe.
2) But the ultimate winner in the hearts and minds of the judges and attendees was Marc Forgione, who cranked out a dazzling array of bites, including perfect terrine slices, mini-hot dogs, boudin noir chunks, crispy pork belly squares, and salted skin puffs. As a main course, Team Forgione served a tender piece of pork loin on a bed of polenta, topped with an aromatic, herb-scented broth — really good stuff.
3) Andy Ricker (who was judging last night) says that the opening of Pok Pok Wing is going well, even though they still don't have a gas line yet. Also, things are moving along nicely with Pok Pok Red Hook. The space will seat about 40 inside and about 40 -50 in the back yard. They're in the middle of the build out right now and they're on track for an April opening.
4) It was good to see former Momofuku sommelier Christina Turley in the house! She was there pouring glasses of her family's wine.
5) There were a few attempts at pork-infused cocktails last night, but by far the best was the chilled bourbon and meat juice drink that team Resto served. It was refreshing and not in the least bit gross.
6) Friends of Damon Wise call him "Diamond D."
7) Forgione was the only chef who did not wear whites during his presentation — he wore a faded Giants T-shirt all evening.
8) The Fatty 'Cue team showed up near the end of the night with big trays of collards, potato salad, pulled pork, and Cubano sandwiches. This was a big hit, even though no one was actually hungry. Note: The Cubano sandwiches were exceptional. If you ever see this sandwich on the Fatty 'Cue late night menu, order it.
9) Cesare Casella can't walk through a room without people stopping him every five feet to say hello and take a picture. People just really like that guy.
10) Best sweet treat of the evening: Tresle on Tenth's pork-flavored saltwater taffy. Just as good as it sounds.
11) Some revelers headed to Resto after the winner was announced, but the big Champagne jam was at The Beard House, where the party raged until the wee hours.
· All Coverage of Cochon 555 [~ENY~]