On Sunday, April 13th, five of Chicago's chefs took on the challenge of presenting six unique pork dishes at the sixth annual Cochon 555. The ballroom at the Blackstone Renaissance was filled with vendors and pork-hungry attendees, and the chefs were kept busy plating their visions of the heritage breed pig used in the competition.
Giuseppe Tentori of GT Fish & Oyster took a whimsical approach, basing his menu on the tale of the Three Little Pigs. His dishes included pork shoulder with green tea soba noodles and cannelloni stuffed with braised ham and black truffle marmalade.
Acadia's Ryan McCaskey provided a mix of popular and creative plates, offering dishes such as a rich tonkatsu ramen and blood truffles wrapped in toasted marshmallow.
Cory Morris of Mercat a la Planxa impressed many of the attendees with his take on the beloved PB&J: strawberry rhubarb jam was layered with peanut butter and pork liver mousse, creating a flavor both surprising and familiar.
Erik Abraham Conlon of Fat Rice spiced things up with his Macauan cuisine. A papaya and pig face salad contained a pleasant heat, while the family style rice was comforting and flavorful.
However, in the end it was Travelle's Tim Graham who won the votes at Cochon 555. He presented a variety of dishes that showed of the best of the pig. Unique dishes like his curry pork rillettes, which were served with a lit candle wick to melt down the fat before eating, and the Cracklin' Jack, which gave a nod to that traditional snack but used pork skin instead of popcorn, earned him the approval of the diners.
Chef Graham will continue on to represent Chicago in the Grand Cochon at the Aspen Food & Wine Classic on June 22nd.