Pastoral's Producer Market, Cochon 555 Bring The Crowds

To kick off the market season in Chicago, Pastoral Artisan Bread, Cheese & Wine teamed up with the Chicago French Market on Saturday, April 27 to present Pastoral's Artisan Producers Festival. Now in its third year, the festival provided customers a face-to-face encounter with the makers of the market products from both venues. Free tastings of cheese, charcuterie, wine, beer, and more were offered among the usual vendors found at the Chicago French Market.

A stage set up in the center concourse showcased demonstrations as well. Charlie McKenna from Lillie's Q and Rob Levitt from The Butcher & Larder gave a talk on proper butchery as they broke down a pig in front of the audience. Bello Tea provided instruction on the "Art of Matcha," the bitter, but health-boosting green tea from Japan.

The market was timed to coincide with Cochon 555, the traveling pork cooking contest. Chicago's contestants included Kevin Hickey of Allium, Ryan Poli from Tavernita, Cosmo Goss of Publican Quality Meats, and Matthias Merges from Yusho. The ticketed event provided tasty bites of pork dishes from each chef. The title of Chicago champ went to Goss, who will continue on to battle against other urban winners in Aspen's Food & Wine Classic in June.

Both showcases earned an admirable turnout as they celebrated the spring season of food events in Chicago.