For six years, Cochon 555—a competition tour challenging chefs in foodie towns around the US to create delicious, innovative pork dishes—has hit New York City, Miami, Los Angeles, and other cities across the nation. Now in its seventh tour and now that Houston’s culinary proficiency is recognized in greater measure every day, Cochon 555 is making a stop in the Bayou City. Here, local chefs will be competing to be King or Queen of Porc, an honor with also includes a trip to the wine country in Rioja, Spain.
4 pm: VIP admission
5 pm: general admission
JW Marriott Downtown
806 Main St.
“In the past few years, I’ve noticed Houston’s rising food scene,” says Cochon 555 founder Brady Lowe. “The city has cultivated one of the best ethnically diverse culinary landscapes in the country. As [its] impressive reputation continues to climb, I saw a pressing need to include the great city of Houston in the tour this year. We’re excited to see what these talented chefs bring to the table.”
The contenders in this year's Cochon 555 are Main Kitchen chef Erin Smith—who also serves as the official host chef, Killen’s Barbecue chef/owner Ronnie Killen, Punk’s Simple Southern Food chef Brandi Key, Down House chef Mark Decker, and Coltivare chef/owner duo Ryan Pera and Morgan Weber. The five teams will duke it out locally, with the winner advancing to the national competition in Aspen this June.
The event, which is open to the public at the JW Marriott Downtown, includes tastings of roughly 36 pork dishes along with wine and high-end craft cocktails. Included is what Cochon calls "The Perfect Manhattan Experience." Think Manhattans made with Eagle Rare bourbon, Buffalo Trace bourbon, and Breckenridge bourbon, garnished with Luxardo cherries.
A $125 general admission ticket—available for purchase online—gets you access to all the bites and sips your heart desires of all the competitors booths as well as a welcome punch party at 5 pm. The punch party will be a treat of its own, offering spectators bites from La Brea Bakery, fine cheeses, oysters from Liberty Kitchen, and a tartare bar featuring premium beef from Creekstone Farms. A $200 VIP ticket, meanwhile, gets you an early entrance at 4 pm and drinks for Cochon's Punch King event, which pits five of the city's best bartenders against one another in a cocktail competition.
For the rest of the evening, the expected 400-plus attendees will be hopping from booth to booth sample loins, roasts, chops, bacon-wrapped everything, and whatever other creative tastes Houston’s best chefs can ideate, which Lowe promises typically includes some off-the-wall dishes from pig head parmesan sandwiches to crispy chili pig ears.
“We see everything from whole animal dishes to the best sweets designed around the pig,” Lowe says. “It’s such a versatile and magical animal.”
Tickets will go fast, so be sure to buy online as soon as possible. And, our best recommendation is to not eat for how many days in advance you need so to prepare yourself for the smorgasbord that awaits you—lest you feel like a pig after eating so much, well, pig.