St. Vibiana’s has seen many makeovers, transforming from an ultraslick nightclub into a tween-friendly prom venue, or from an immaculate wedding chapel into a medieval masquerade ball in a matter of days. This Sunday, the Baroque-inspired cathedral will morph again, this time into a shrine of swine, as Brady Lowe and his traveling porkapalooza, Cochon 555, roll into downtown.
The inaugural Los Angeles event is a carnal gantlet for pork lovers, where five heritage pig farmers and five vintners are paired with five local chefs. Each chef is then challenged to create a snout-to-tail feast for 400 guests, who will serve as judges alongside a selected panel. The goal is to introduce patrons and chefs to new brands and breeds, showcasing some of the best pork each region has to offer.
Because of L.A.’s enthusiastic response and rapid sellout, Lowe felt he needed to up the ante.
Sunday's event will feature two butcher demos instead of one, an extra bar and an additional winery. There will be an additional 60 pounds of bacon from La Quercia, an extra kilo of caviar for the VIP room, and Chris Pollan from the Cheese Store of Silver Lake will be serving up his wares. In addition, this will be the first time a musical component has been added -- DJ Lord from Public Enemy and Egon from Stones Throw Records will spin as guests swirl into a swine-induced stupor.
Adding a sacrificial element, butchering demos will take place in front of the main altar. There will also be a freestyle butchering competition and the Bacon Hall of Fame, where exceptional producers of hormone- and antibiotic-free cured and smoked meat will be showcased. In the VIP area, Amelia Posada and Erika Nakamura of Lindy & Grundy will break down a Kume Kume pig, a small spotted Maori breed native to New Zealand.
Tender Belly Farms will be providing Hereford, Spotted Poland and Hampshire pork to be used by Ben Ford (Ben Ford's Filling Station), Tim Godell (Public Kitchen and Bar) and Chad Colby (Osteria Mozza), respectively. Octavio Becerra of Palate Food & Wine will be work with Berkshire from ReRide Ranch, and Joshua Whigham of the Bazaar will use the Red Wattle breed from Walnut Keep Farm & Vineyard.
Most chefs are tight-lipped about what they have in store for the competition, and are wary of any definitive speculation.
“It may come down to traditionalist versus modernist. If that’s the case, it could be Josh Whigham,” says Ford. “I will say this, though: Chad Colby is the only guy whose head cheese I’d eat.”
To get the full rundown on Cochon 555, plus a porcine photo gallery, read on. >>>
-- Krista Simmons
Follow me on Twitter @kristasimmons
Photo courtesy of Cochon 555