Cochon 555, the culinary competition featuring five chefs, five heritage pig breeds and five winemakers, takes place Sunday at the Fairmont Miramar Santa Monica hotel.
The annual event is part of the Cochon tour that hits several cities across the country, at least partly to promote sustainable farming of heritage breed pigs. Winners of the regional Cochon 555 events compete at a Grand Cochon national finale where he or she is announced a king or queen of "porc" at an award ceremony. The Grand Cochon includes a tasting of more than 30 chef dishes, butcher demos, reserve wines, craft beer, cocktails, bourbon bars and pork-flavored sweets.
The Cochon tour also has spawned a slew of events including Cochon Heritage Fire, where whole animals (including beef, lamb, goat, rabbit and birds) are cooked over live fires; Cochon Heritage B.B.Q. & National Bourbon Month; All-Star Cochon, which is not to be confused with Epic Cochon; and even Cochon Island, which is planned for Hawaii. All told, more than 11 tons of pork are cooked at the events.
At this year's Cochon 555 Los Angeles, the competing chefs, who each have to prepare a maximum of six dishes from one whole pig, include Ray Garcia of Fig Restaurant, Christian Page of Short Order, Jason Neve of B&B Ristorante, Ray England of Craft and Brian Howard of Comme Ça.
The crowd and a panel of judges will vote on the best dishes. This year's judges include Lesley Balla (Zagat), Jason Kupper (the Thomas), Ben Ford (Ford's Filling Station), Micah Wexler (Mezze), Jason Neroni (Superba Snack Bar), Jonathan Gold (L.A. Times), Johnathan Crocker (Taste of L.A.), Carrie Kommers (Table One), Jet Tila (the Charleston), Russ Parsons (L.A. Times), Matt Selman ("The Simpsons"), Maximillian Chow (Mr. Chow) and Hadley Tomicki (Urban Daddy), among others. Special guests Jet Tila (the Charleston) will prepare an additional late-night sixth pig, and Erika Nakamura and Amelia Posada of Lindy & Grundy will butcher a pig for the audience.
Tickets are on sale online; a general admission ticket is $125, and a VIP ticket for early admission is $200. Part of the proceeds will benefit the American Institute of Wine & Food.