Blackberry Farm

Friends of the Farm

A Closer Look at Cochon 555

For its third consecutive year 5 chefs, 5 pigs, and 5 winemakers have come together to promote sustainable farming of heirloom pork

Cochon 555 will be stopping into ten major cities to give local farmers the opportunity to connect with an epicurean audience, of renowned chefs, like-minded agriculturalists, and the pork-loving public

Our Butcher, Michael Sullivan, will be touring with Cochon 555 over the next few months, hand-picking the heirloom pork featured, hosting demonstrations about butchery, and enjoying the high energy that everyone brings to this unique event.

How did you get involved in Cochon 555?

Michael: At Aspen FOOD & WINE event I brought 1,000 pounds of cured meats and lectured on the utilization of animal fat. That sermon is where I received my nickname the “Reverend of Fat”. After that event, Brady Lowe, President and Creative Director of Taste Network got in touch with me, and came out to the farm. I had to opportunity to share some of our local pork and the utilization of the pig. He then invited me out to Primal Event in Napa last fall, where I prepared rabbit and now I’m involved with Cochon 555.

What do you do for Cochon 555?

Michael: My job is to contact local farmers who are raising heritage, heirloom pig. I then pair these pasture raised pigs with a chef that will be cooking at the event. Chefs not only get their own pig, but it’s a different variety from what they have used. Chefs then have to feed 20 judges and 400 to 500 guests with 175 lbs worth of pig. I also give demonstrations on butchering techniques and animal fat. They have a Save the Fat t-shirt supporting the message!

Tell me a little bit about your process for picking pigs.

Michael: Our goal is education. We want to help farmers expand their cliental of restaurants, and to expose chefs to new varieties of pig. I try to keep this in mind when I’m selecting. Aside from that, every pig has a fat to lean ratio, and everything in the environment has a direct effect on the finished product of the pork. Industry has purposely bred all the fat out pigs, but heirloom pigs are natural. Choosing certain heirloom varieties encourages people to learn about the source of pork, and some of these varieties can be traced back for centuries.

For example, we have a Sabian Haul pig at our Chicago stop. This variety was cross breed in the 1800’s, and has won four World Fairs. I found a Wessex Saddleback in Vermont, but I can’t get one until next year, because there are only 4 raised a year. Cochon 555 has a Field Guide to Heritage Breed Pigs that explains more about the varieties.

What are you most excited about this season with Cochon 555?

Michael: I just love the energy, and I’m excited to a part! The people involved are passionate about pork and they come from all different backgrounds. Not only are we promoting heirloom pork, we are also trying to bring back the art of butchery. During the event we host a butcher competition where butchers compete to break down a pig carcass, and then raffle it off. I’ve already learned so much that I am able to apply in my butcher shop.

There is really nothing else like this event. It’s a pig party!

Don't miss the upcoming Cochon 555 events:

Napa, CA March 6th
Washington, DC March 13th
Chicago, IL March 20th
Denver, CO April 3rd
Los Angeles, CA May 1st
New Orleans, LA May 28th
San Francisco, CA June 5th

For more information visit Cochon 555.