It was the most Portland thing to ever happen in Portland: In 2010, two chefs were arrested outside a downtown strip club for starting a drunken, head-butting fistfight over the lineage of a pig they’d butchered and cooked earlier that day. (Iowa-bred, it wasn’t local enough.) The scuffle made somewhat tongue-in-cheek national news.
One of the brawlers was Atlanta-based chef and food educator Brady Lowe, in town that day as organizer of Cochon 555, a nationwide series of pork feasts/fests that celebrate America’s heritage breed pigs. (“Heritage breed pigs,” states the Cochon 555 website, “come from bloodlines going back hundreds of years when livestock was raised on multi-use, open-pasture farms.”)
If you wonder what the Seattle equivalent might be—silent snubbing, malicious Yelping, vindictive backslapping?—this Sunday is your chance to find out, when Cochon 555 returns to the city for its fifth anniversary. Six local chefs will cook six locally raised pigs (lesson learned) alongside five local wineries at Cedarbrook Lodge, a hotel and event space near Sea-Tac.
I’ll be there to take it all in—literally—accompanied by Madison Park Conservatory chef and City Arts cover star Cormac Mahoney.
Because six pigs isn’t gluttonous enough, the hours-long event will also feature an oyster bar, a caviar bar, a tartare bar and a craft cheese bar. Also a mescal bar, a manhattan bar, a Champagne bar, five bourbon distilleries and a cocktail competition. And, for good measure, a barbecued pig. And “pork-spiked desserts.” My stomach is squirming as I type.
Chefs represent some of our favorite restaurants, including Josh Henderson of Skillet, Rachel Yang and Seif Chirchi of Revel and Shane Ryan of Matt’s in the Market. Twenty judges and 400 guests will vote their favorite, to be crowned the “Prince or Princess of Porc,” who’ll go on to the Grand Cochon event in Aspen this June.
Like Burning Man, skydiving and three-way sex, eating six different pigs is a dangerous, ridiculous thing everyone must try once in their life. You’ll pay for it—tickets start at $125/person—but if you survive, you’ll have a helluva tale to tell. And maybe a black eye.
Image: Police mug shots of Portland chef Eric Bechard and Cochon 555 founder Brady Lowe