Chicago’s Top Chefs Battled For Pork Supremacy at Cochon555

Austin and NYC are next up the national culinary competition tour—get your tickets now for all-you-can eat heritage pork and endless spirits.

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Presented by Cochon555 US Tour

Five renowned Chicago chefs battled it out in a friendly competition for a cause at Cochon555 last weekend to celebrate heritage breed pigs and the family farms dedicated to their sustainable upbringing. 

The competing chefs and their teams worked tirelessly to prepare more than 30 mouthwatering dishes for a room packed with judges and 500-plus cheering guests.

Cochon555 Chicago chefs (from left): Chris Thompson of Coda di Volpe, Jake Chappel of Vincent, Brian and Jennifer Enyart of Dos Urban Cantina, Corry Morris of Nacional 27, Daniel Espinoza of Cantina Laredo and founder Brady Lowe.

This year’s competing chefs included Chef Cory Morris of Nacional 27, Chef Jake Chappell of Vincent, Chef Chris Thompson of Coda di Volpe, Chef Brian Enyart and Chef Jennifer Jones Enyart of Dos Urban Cantina, and Chef Daniel Espinoza of Cantina Laredo.  

Chef Daniel Espinoza’s winning plate showcased a whole heritage pig raised by Honey Bee Acres farm.
Chef Daniel Espinoza of Cantina Laredo pictured holding the trophy alongside founder Brady Lowe. Espinoz clinched the “Prince of Pork” title and will represent Chicago at Grand Cochon, the national finale, on September 15 in Chicago.

He and his stellar team presented an inspired winning menu including Tostada de Queso de Puerco, filled with black beans, salsa cruda, cabbage and pork fat lime vinaigrette, Pozole Verde, with hominy, radish and salsa Macha, Carnitas Guacasalsa, with pickled jalapeno escabeche, chicharron on a tortilla, Chorizo Verde, with cured cactus salad, cotija cheese, gigante beans in an avocado leaf, Pork Pepita Roulade, featuring dark pig blood mole, sesame and pepita crumbles and the Flan de Piloncillo Tocino, with pickled rhubarb and cinnamon sugar chicharron. 

The winning plate showcased one whole pig: an Ossabaw raised by Honey Bee Acres.

Additionally, the event also featured five of the city’s hottest barkeeps in the Punch Kings spirit competition. The chosen spirit of the event and the spotlight ingredient was El Tesoro™ Blanco Tequila, the tequila steeped with tradition. 

Barkeep Johnny Contraveos and the Solar Vortex Punch.

Johnny Contraveos “Solar Vortex Punch” combined El Tesoro Blanco Tequila, Pink Guava, Hibiscus Piloncillo Syrup, Acidulated Pineapple Juice and Spiced Falernum.

A tray of Solar Vortex Punches ready for the judges at Cochon555 prepared by Johnny Contraveos.

Cochon555 also celebrated five noteable sommeliers competing in Somm Smackdown, in which they each selected their favorite wine to pair with dishes presented by the five competing chefs. Jillian Riley of NoMI took the trophy with her selection, Red Tail Ridge, a 2016 Pétillant Naturel of Riesling produced in the Finger Lakes region of New York.

Overall, Cochon555 presented by CitiBank and their partners helped raise more than $3,500 for Piggy Bank, a charitable foundation and start-up farm in Missouri that serves as a kickstarter for emerging family farms, as well as a safety net for farms in the wake of a disaster (flood, fire and disease).

“The national competition gets more intense and dynamic every year, and the performance of chefs, sommeliers, and barkeeps in Chicago shows precisely why the city is synonymous with landscaping a responsible culinary excellence in this country,” Cochon555 founder Brady Lowe said of the event. 

“We can’t wait to return to Chicago in September for Grand Cochon where we will crown the King or Queen of Pork.”

If you love chef competitions, must-do culinary experiences, endless wines and spirits, making charitable donations and noshing on 30-plus chef-crafted dishes, then don’t miss out when this tour comes to your city. Up next are Austin on March 31 and NYC on April 14.  

Buy tickets to the nation’s most talked about culinary event and follow @Cochon555 on Instagram to keep up with all of the excitement happening across the country.

Galdones Photography for Cochon555