Matt Jennings Wins Cochon 555 for the Fourth Time

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All top chefs in Boston converge at SoWa Power Station for Cochon 555 Festival

Four-time winner Matt Jennings celebrates with his team.

There’s nothing quite like five of Boston’s top chefs converging in one hall, each with a mission to win the title of King or Queen of Pork. Cochon 555 is exactly this, with each chef getting a heritage pig and challenged to create five different dishes for a crowd of hungry guests and a select few celebrity judges.

While Cochon 555 is always an amazing event, this year a few things were different. For one thing, the event was part of a weekend full of food festivities all hosted for the first time at the SoWa Power Station.

The weekend kicked off on Friday night with the “Create” event, featuring many of Boston’s up-and-coming visual artists as well as food and live music, then continued Saturday with “Bespoke,” a day filled with seminars and panel discussions on labor trends in the food industry. The power of conversation, particularly in an industry that is so often about the end product, was certainly palpable despite the cold weather. A ramen bar and German wine tasting were other highlights, as well as local purveyors and an impressive Glenfiddich dome.

Of course, the moment everyone was waiting for was Sunday’s Cochon 555 Heritage BBQ, four hours of the most ostentatious presentations of bite-sized pork renditions. Another difference this year: Each competing chef was able to select his or her crew from across restaurants.

Two of the standouts for the day were chef Matthew Jennings and his crew, which included Will Gilson, Colin Lynch, and Matthew Gaudet, and chef Josh Lewin’s team, including the butcher Christopher Walker.

Competition was tough this year, and though Jennings and his team of rock stars took home the winning prize (with Jennings winning the title for the fourth time), each team had at least one dish that stood apart from the sea of pork. The top three were definitely the pulled pork chicharrones from Lewin, melt in your mouth pork belly tacos from Jennings’ station, and pork sausage from chef Marc Sheehan of Loyal Nine.

Of course, part of the true magic of Cochon 555 is the sense of togetherness reverberating across the room. From non-competing chefs making amazing dishes like Tony Messina’s thinly sliced and charred pork neck to the plentiful presentation of cheeses by Formaggio Kitchen, it truly feels as though the entire restaurant industry is congregated in the same room.

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If you missed out this year, make sure you are on the look-out for next year’s event — it’s simply not to be missed again!