The Cochon555 U.S. Tour stop in Miami is the one time each year that some of our best chefs are challenges to show off their pork chops in a skills competition to raise awareness and generate education around heritage breed pigs in support of local family farms. Brady Lowe’s fantastic event – now in its seventh year and always one of our favorites – benefits a great cause and serves up lots of good food and tons of fun.
This year, in addition to the competition, we also had the opportunity to attend Friday night’s kick-off event, the Late Nite Asian Speakeasy at Phuc Yea. This nationwide pop-up of event, which has already made stops in NYC, Minneapolis, Houston, Denver, and LA with future stops coming up in Seattle, DC, Chicago, and San Francisco, consists of multi-course culinary extravaganza celebrating responsible agriculture and culinary champions with a late-night seated dinner that pays homage to Chinese, Sichuan, Korean, Thai, and Japanese after-hour restaurants known to inspire great chefs and menus across the country.
The Miami pop-up was a truly epic feast, with authentic heat and humidity inside the dining room thanks to some faulty A/C that was reminiscent of what you’d expect from a late night Asian dining experience. It may not have been on purpose, but it perfectly set the stage for the evening’s meal prepared by Cesar Zapata of the coming-soon Phuc Yea and The Federal, Aaron Brooks from Edge Steak & Bar, Sugarcane’s Timon Balloo, Diego Oka of La Mar by Gaston Acurio, and John Gallo and Rene Reyes from newcomer Pinch Kitchen. Not a bad lineup, right?
So, here’s a look at what we ate:
1st course: Chef Zapata’s Luon Kho To Roasted Cod with fish sauce caramel, coconut rice, pineapple, and fish chips.
2nd course: Chef Gallo’s & Chef Reyes’ Home-Made Bao Bun with sai krok isan, home-made kimchi, crispy pig ear confetti, and chino-cubano sauce.
3rd course: Chef Balloo’s Filipino Adobo Goat with garlic rice and home-made jugfan.
4th course: Chef Brooks’ Fire Roasted Whole Lamb marinated in a fragrant paste of lemongrass and galangal, crying tiger sauce, mint, Thai basil, and fried peanuts. (Served as lettuce wraps and whole curried head.)
5th course: Chef Oka’s Caldo de Gallina, a Peruvian version of ramen with potato, chicken, egg, and canchita topped with rocoto sauce and huacatay.
6th course: Chef Zapata’s Condensed Milk Soft Serve with mung beans, jellies, mango, and corn flakes.
Add to all that cocktails from Breckenridge Distillery, The Perfect Puree of Napa Valley, and Martinez-Lacuesta Vermut, non-alcoholic drinks from DRY Sparkling, and amazing wine pairings from Wines of Germany, and, as mentioned, this late night meal was an epic, well-rounded success.
Now, on to the main event: Sunday night’s swine showdown, Cochon555. This year’s competitors showing off their skills in search of the title of Miami’s Prince of Porc 2016 were Drunken Dragon’s Xavier Torres, Vagabond’s Alex Chang, Michael Fiorello of Beachcraft, Anthony Le Pape from the hosting Ritz-Carlton South Beach, and Diego Oka from La Mar by Gaston Acurio.
While the challengers prepped and served their pork-tastic food, guests were invited to also enjoy wine pairings from Ridge Vineyards, Sandhi Wines, The Scholium Project, Pax Wine Cellars, and Pisoni Estate; a Ramen Bar by Pubbelly’s Jose Mendin; the Punch Kings cocktail competition; a butchering demo by Miami Smokers’ Andres Barrientos and Chef Adrianne’s Adrianne Calvo; a Tartare Bar by Blackbrick’s Richard Hales; The Perfect Puree of Napa Valley Tiki Bar; a number of other cocktail tasting experiences; a Preservation Project tattoo exhibition by Heritage Ink; and live music from DJ Lord of Public Enemy. All of this, of course, is in support of Piggy Bank, a foundation that gifts heritage breed pigs to family farmers in exchange for business plans.
In the end, Chef Diego Oka took home the coveted title and will go on to represent Miami against the other nine winners in Grand Cochon at Snowmass/Aspen in June where the grand champion will be crowned. Using all of his Large Black pig from Maverick Meats/FKS Farms, Chef Oka’s winning menu included Tamal de Quinoa, Morcilla Tacu Tacu, Chaufa, and Cebiche Salad, Pan con Chicharrón, and Adobo.
For more food photos and to see the chefs in action, feast your eyes upon the photo gallery below.