In 2008, pig was big — everyone was makin' bacon. That was the year Cochon 555 kicked of its national parade of pork — not to get more folks eating "the other white meat," but to prove that there's more to pork than pallid cuts of flavorless tenderloin. The multi-city tour with the goal of raising awareness of heritage-breed hogs and promoting safe and humane farming practices first came to Denver in 2011, bringing the city a taste of the whole animal by giving five local chefs the chance to compete for swine supremacy. And Cochon 555 will be back again in town this year, with a pair of dinners leading up to the big event on Sunday, March 6.
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On Friday, March 4, the pig-stravaganza gets under way with Cochon's Asian Speakeasy — a food and beverage pop-up at Cho77. Starting at 9 p.m. guests can indulge in a range of adult beverages, followed by a multi-course dinner that will cover Chinese, Korean, Thai and Japanese cuisine from Cho77 and ChoLon chef/owner Lon Symensma, Paul Reilly of Beast + Bottle, Ryan Gorby and Becca Henry of Cho77 and guest cook Amanda Faison of 5280 magazine. Tickets are $130 each, which will benefit Piggy Bank, a non-profit organization that provides free heritage-breed pigs and business plans to small family farms. Go to the Piggy Bank website for more information and to purchase tickets.
On Saturday, March 5, Rebel Restaurant will host Chef's Course, featuring food from the restaurant's team of Dan Lasiy, Bo Porytko and Kyle Foster along with chefs John Wilson of Jezebel's, John Little of Harman's Eat & Drink and Cochon 555 founder Brady Lowe. The pork fest is scheduled from 7 to 10 p.m., but organizers suggest arriving at 6:30 p.m. for canapes from each of the chefs, followed by a five-course dinner. This event also benefits Piggy Bank; tickets are still available.
Sunday, March 6, is the big day, with five Denver chefs competing for top honors at the downtown Ritz-Carlton at 1881 Curtis Street — each throwing down six dishes from every part of a whole hog. This year's competitors are Troy Guard of TAG, Nelson Perkins of Colt & Gray, Franco Ruiz of Fruition, Kyle Mendenhall of The Kitchen and Paul C. Reilly of Beast + Bottle. Tickets are $125 (plus service charge) per person for a 5 p.m. start or $200 for a VIP pass, which gets you in an hour early. Other packages are available, so check the Cochon 555 website for pricing and availability.