Cochon U.S. Tour has announced the Chicago winner of the 10-city traveling culinary competition. Chef Sarah Grueneberg of Monteverde Restaurant & Pastificio was crowned the Princess of Porc this past Sunday, April 24 at the Loews Chicago Hotel. Chef Sarah will go on to represent Chicago against the other nine cities’ winners in Grand Cochon at Snowmass / Aspen for the title of 2016 King or Queen of Porc and the grand prize, a four-day wine experience in Rioja, Spain’s most prominent wine region. Grand Cochon features ten chefs competing for the crown and guests attending the event can book tickets for Heritage Fire, the country’s premier live-fire event which both fall on the same weekend as the Classic in Aspen. This year’s Chicago event benefitted the Piggy Bank, a farm devoted to providing free heritage breed pigs and business plans to emerging family farms.
“It was amazing to come to Chicago again this year; I was honored to be surrounded by such a diverse and talented group of chefs” -Cochon555 founder Brady Lowe
This year’s competing chefs included Host Chef Cory Morris of Rural Society, Alfredo Nogueira of Analogue, Phillip Foss of EL Ideas, Sarah Rinkavage of Lula Cafe and winning chef Sarah Grueneberg of Monteverde Restaurant & Pastificio who took home top honors. The chefs prepared dishes using whole heritage-breed pigs from family farms in a head to tail showcase for a crowd of pork-loving gourmands. Chef Sarah won the event with a Mangalitsa breed of pig raised by Meadowbrook Farm. Originating from Hungary in the early 1800’s, the Mangalitsa is a very rare breed characterized by its course, wooly coat and ability to withstand extreme conditions. It is known for its high-quality, lard-type fat and high percentage of marbling, which worked in tandem with Chef Sarah’s winning menu of six uniquely created delicious bites that celebrated Chicago’s diverse culinary neighborhoods. Dishes included: Southside - Bar-b-Q Rib Rillettes: Lard, Whole Rib, Shoulder, West Loop - Pig Skin Tortellini in Brodo: Lard, Bones, Skin, Shoulder, Feet, Back Fat, Chinatown - Xi’an Spicy Pork Flatbread: Lard, Belly, Ham, Coppa, Ukrainian Village - Offal-ly Pierogi: Lard, Kidney, Heart, Brain, Cheek, Pilson - Tamales De Cabeza & Piggy Backs: Lard, Head, Ears, Tongue and Little Italy - Crema di Lardo Cannoli: Lard, Back Fat.
Throughout the event, a series of activations beyond the 36 competition dishes included the TarTare Bar with Creekstone Farms featuring “2015 Princess of Porc” Nicole Pederson of Found Kitchen and Social House, “Luxe Butter Bar” premium butter experience featuring the wines of Antica Napa Valley. All guests enjoyed The Artisan Cheese Bar featuring the team from Pastoral Artisan Cheese, Cypress Grove Chevre, Coach Farm, Parrano and 34º Crisps, a Tapas Bar featuring Chef AJ Walker of Publican and Wines from Rioja, special bites from Niman Ranch and the Seafood Shelf with Swift & Sons featuring Rappahannock River Oysters. Those casting a vote for the best bite were able to taste the new Ramen Bar prepared by Justin Carlisle of Red Light Ramen by Ardent paired with the stunning Wines of Germany and featuring Sun Noodle followed by the Pop-Up Pie Shop featuring Bang Bang Pie Shop before the Awards Ceremony. All guests had the opportunity to take home delicious heritage breed pork from the Pop-Up Butcher Shop, a butchering demonstration with Rob Levitt of Butcher & Larder. The Butcher Shop is a retail experience, which raised $4590 for Piggy Bank and was hosted by celebrated emcee Billy Harris of Hanging with Harris with the support of Williams-Sonoma and our friends in aprons at Hedley & Bennett.