So, Cochon 555 was 9 days ago, and it still feels like yesterday. I kind of feel like Will Farrell in Old School, when he finishes his debate.
So, now that I’ve come to after a Cochon-induced blackout, I can safely say that February 4 was one of the best culinary experiences of my life. In one awesome room downtown, there were 5 chefs who put a ton of skill and effort into turning 5 well-bred and well-raised heritage breed pigs into delicious food for about 500 people. Successes all around.
I could go on and on about some of the dishes that I had at the event, but instead I really just want to pass on some props to a couple of people. I’m going to break this into two posts, this one for the Memphians and the next for our out of town brethren.
1. The Prince of Pork himself – Kelly English
Kelly’s squad was the first one that we had to judge, and he really knocked it out of the park. My highlights were his tongue and cheek dish and his combination of surprise and humility upon being named the champion of Cochon 555 Memphis.
After standing in silence for what seemed a minute or two, finger pointed back at himself in a “who me” gesture, he accepted the trophy and proceeded to talk more about the other chefs than himself. In addition to being an extremely talented chef, he is a great guy who believes in what he’s doing and what his peers are doing. I’m glad to have gotten to know this guy recently. Great guy for Memphis.
2. Memphis’ Dynamic Duo – Andy Ticer and Michael Hudman
The Memphis teams bookended the judging, as Andy and Michael were the last team up. They made sure that Memphis was well represented. A truly fantastic job.
I just met Andy recently, but I’ve known Michael for a good while, and I have nothing but great things to say about these guys. The brought the house to Cochon with amazing food, an incredible set up, and attire strait out of a Billy Reid photo shoot. Their popcorn gelato with the blood, chocolate, and peanut butter dessert had my crew up in arms. Also, high level props for finding a way to mix Maker’s and Benton’s, genius.
I can’t wait to see how these guys continue to take their food to the next level, and I am super psyched about their next venture over on Brookhaven.
3. The M-Town Crew – You people
While I cruised around meeting new people and catching up with old friends, I heard some pretty cool things. Maybe it was just a rumor, and maybe it was just a bunch of river living Southerners puffing our chests out, but the word was that Memphis sold out faster and sold more tickets than Cochon New York.
Everywhere I looked, I saw people that enjoy a great meal and some good company, and that was exactly what Cochon was about.
One of my memorable moments was a discussion with a new friend of mine, in which she declared to me that it is now “Memphis’ time” as a food community. We’ve got the chefs, we’ve got the eaters, and we’ve got a lot of people that care about how it all comes together. Cochon is a celebration of flavor, farmers, and fun. In Memphis, we have all three of them, and I really believe that she is right, it is our time. And I can’t wait to see what we do with it. I’ll tell you where I’ll be. I’ll be right in the middle of it trying to do my part by supporting the people that put their hearts into what they do.
PS. Oh yeah, you’ve probably heard by now, but it bears repeating, Memphis is getting the Cochon Heritage BBQ event over Labor Day weekend. It is our time, and it is just beginning. In the wise words of Cole Trickle, we’re “dropping the hammer!”