Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Cohen Announces First Ever Heritage BBQ Champion

The creators of COCHON 555 announced the first-ever Cochon Heritage BBQ champions – Atlanta-based Local Three Chef Todd Mussman and his team including Chef Jay Swift of Swift & 4th, Chef Nick Melvin, and Farmer Tommy Searcy of Gum Creek Farms – at the inaugural BBQ competition event in Memphis this past Sunday, September 2.

"This weekend was inspiring for a first-time festival, and packed with tons of possibility for years to come. All weekend long, a glorious display of culinary and spirited talent dazzled the city of Memphis for a great cause,” said Brady Lowe, Cochon and Taste Network Founder. “I am honored to be surrounded by people who share the commitment of correcting our food system, supporting amazing farmers, and strengthening heritage species in culinary venues nationwide."

“For three action-packed days, Cochon Heritage BBQ featured a schedule of culinary events with top partners including The Peabody Memphis hotel, Duncan Williams, and Food Republic,” said Lowe." In addition to celebrating heritage breeds, Cochon claimed Labor Day weekend in Memphis to spotlight and promote the Craft American Spirit industry, with the official toast to National Bourbon Month taking place Friday at Food Republic's After Hours Brunch and Midnight Bourbon Toast event.”

On Saturday, a tour of Memphis BBQ, including an Allan Benton Bacon Tailgate, 5.55k Fun Run, and Man vs. BBQ eating challenge kept pork-fans on their feet. And on Sunday morning, a series of “Perfect Pairings” seminar sessions presented by industry leaders including American cheese expert Laura Werlin, among others, started off the day. Then, at 1 p.m. the main event – the official Heritage BBQ Competition – kicked-off at the Columns at Commerce Square, in the heart of downtown Memphis.

With the mission of showcasing BBQ using the whole animal, over fifty chefs helmed by the nation’s top culinary talent – all past COCHON participating chefs – went head-to-head in a friendly BBQ competition, serving up over 3,000 pounds of heritage BBQ fare to hundreds of hungry guests. Each team created and prepared a menu from a whole heritage hog, showcasing four meats (pull, muscle, bone, stew) plus two sides for the complete snout-to-tail pork feast. Throughout the event, a panel of expert judges scored each team’s menu on three categories: flavor, technique, and utilization.

After hours of delicious tasting and deliberation, the judge’s top three BBQ teams were awarded. Chef Todd Mussman and his Local Three team from Atlanta took top honors of the day as the judges’ choice for the first place all-around BBQ plate. Second place pork glory was awarded to “The Farmer and The Chef” team from Ozarks, Missouri, a partnership featuring Mark Newman of Newman Farms and St. Jude Chef Miles McMath. And finally, reigning from Chicago, Sub-Zero Wolf Corporate Executive Chef Craig Bell and team took home third place Heritage BBQ acclaim.

Cochon Heritage BBQ is a convergence of responsible farmers, renowned chefs, master distillers, prominent winemakers, established restaurateurs, and the pig-loving public.

Created by Taste Network’s Brady Lowe in 2009 in response to the lack of consumer education around heritage breeds, COCHON is a national event series that takes place in 14 major markets. Every January, COCHON 555 embarks on a 10-city culinary competition and tasting tour where 50 chefs are selected to prepare a ‘snout -to-tail’ menu created from heritage breed pigs. The 10 winners of each regional event are flown to the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen for the final competition, Grand Cochon. Cochon All-Star, Cochon Heritage Fire, and Cochon Heritage BBQ will be hosted as well in 2012. For more details about the events, visit the Cochon brand websites including COCHON555.com, HeritageBBQ.com, TasteNetwork.com, BaconHallofFame.com, or NationalBourbonMonth.com; or, follow @cochon555 on Twitter or Facebook.

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