This past weekend Cochon 555, a traveling competition between five chefs that celebrates and promotes heritage breeds of pigs, came to the Liberty Hotel in Boston.  Hundreds of people came out to sample the culinary preparations of chefs Jamie Bissonette, Toro; Joseph Margate, Clink; Matt Jennings, Farmstead; Tony Maws, Craigie on Main; and Jason Bond, Beacon Hill Hotel & Bistro and taste a variety of heritage breeds.

I was excited to be one of twenty judges that deliberated over the presentation, utilization, and taste of the chefs preparations.  The judging took over three hours, and in the end we were won over by chef Matt Jennings’ preparation of a Red Wattle hog.

Chef Jennings’ menu included delicious charcuterie prepared from the jowl, cheek, tongue, and snout of the hog; a simple and flavorful tortilla filled with carnitas, Rhode Island queso fresco, pickled onion and cilantro; and the memorable boudin noir torte with chili & chocolate and pig brain whip (which is made by boiling down the brain with heavy cream, and oddly enough tastes like CoolWhip).

Cochon 555 is just one of many efforts going on across the country to raise awareness about heritage breeds of livestock by celebrating their unique flavors.  As part of the Renewing America’s Food Traditions alliance, Chefs Collaborative is working with Slow Food USA and the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy to restore agricultural biodiversity and celebrate heirloom varieties of produce, heritage breeds of livestock, and traditional preparation methods.  More and more chefs and home cooks are interested in these breeds.  In fact, the latest issue of Bon Appetit features a whole section on heritage breeds of pigs with accompanying recipes.  For more information on how to work with whole animals and heritage breeds of livestock, download our Pork Report.

Events and programs like these will help to ensure many memorable and delicious meals to come!