Chef José Mendin Wins #Cochon555

After an epic afternoon feasting on over 1,500 pounds of heritage breed pork raised on family farms, almost 600 guests, including chefs, somms, barkeeps, and notable judges, gathered at Cochon555 Miami with full glasses to toast the Miami “Prince of Pork” José Mendín of Habitat, Chef Partner of Food Comma Hospitality Group and Pubbelly Restaurants. Chef Mendin and his team presented a magnificent menu utilizing one whole Red Wattle pig raised by South Florida Heritage Farms. Cochon555 founder Brady Lowe bestowed the winning chef with the regional title in addition to an amazing 4-day wine and gastronomy experience in Rioja, Spain’s most prominent wine region. Chef Mendín will represent Miami at Grand Cochon, the national finale on September 30 in Chicago. Alongside Mendín, Adrian “Moffin” Corona, the head bartender at Mendín’s newest concept, Habitat, took home the trophy for Punch Kings, Cochon555’s spirit competition.

The event raised $2,314 for Piggy Bank, a start-up farm in Missouri that serves as a kickstarter for new family farms and a safety net for those in the wake of a disaster (flood, fire and disease).

To win the culinary competition, more than 30 dishes featuring heritage breed pig were presented by this year’s five competing chefs, including Brian Nasajon of Beaker & Gray,Michael Beltran of Ariete, Santiago Gomez of Cantina La 20, and Adrienne Grenier of3030 Ocean. To win the trophy, Chef José presented a richly flavored and balanced menu of five dishes to guests and celebrity judges. The winning menu included: Pork Tartare “Thai-Rican Flavors” with Sofrito, Kaffir Lime, Cilantro, Lemongrass, Green Papaya Pickles and Pana Chips; Alcapurria De Lechon – Mojo Boricua, Pickled Onions and Salsa Ranchera; Pig Fil-A – Tonkatsu, Pickled Coleslaw and Bulldog Sauce; Morcilla Rice with Apple Romesco, Pickled Ramp Aioli, Chistorra and Hazelnuts; and to end on a sweet note, Pork Liver Mousse Profiterole with Black Truffle Honey, Summer Black Truffles and Sea Salt. Guests ate in celebration of a great cause while listening to music by DJ Lord of Public Enemy.

Cochon555 also hosted two beverage competitions this year. Punch Kings, a spirit competition featuring five top barkeeps faced with a challenge of making a whole-bottle punch for a panel of 8 notable judges. Adrian “Moffin” Corona, of Habitat won Punch Kings with his Ancestros Punch, combining Breckenridge Bourbon, Damiana, Tepache, Citricos and Spiced Syrup. In Somm Smackdown, a wine competition featuring five top sommeliers who select a favorite wine to pair with dishes presented by five competing chefs, Natascha Patterer of La Centrale took the trophy with her Szigeti, 2015 Sekt Brut Rosé from Burgenland, Austria. Additional competing somms and barkeeps included Krystal Kinney of Union 27, Kirsta Grauberger of Fall Ball Group, Amanda Fraga of Amara at Paraiso and Allison De Leo of Scarpetta who rounded out the Somm Smackdown competition and Ben Potts of Beaker & Gray, Daniel Love of Scarpetta, Craig Welsh of Boulud Sud and Rafael Vazquez of Bourbon Steak who presented hand-crafted punches for the spirits competition.

“The national competition gets more intense and dynamic every year, and the performance of chefs, somms, and barkeeps in Miami shows precisely why the city is synonymous with landscaping a responsible culinary excellence in this country,” said Cochon555 founder Brady Lowe. “Chef José’s winning dishes were bold, modern, thoughtful, and full of the kind of flavors that enhance what heritage breed pigs have to offer. We can’t wait to return to Miami.”

Communal feasting is an integral part of Cochon555; the events are theaters for innovative spirit, wine, and cocktail experiences — all in, a 40-course gourmet tasting menu taken standing up with endless wines and hand-crafted cocktails. The Welcome Lounge ushered guests in with a Buffalo Trace Punch Bar and The Bone Collector, a reception of unctuous ramen broth prepared by Xavier Torres of Drunken Dragon, followed by a Galliano Welcome Cocktail, the Signature Starter Bar and Farmstead Cheese Experience featuring Cello, Yellow Door Creamery, La Quercia, Savile Row, Cypress Grove and local cheesemonger La Centrale. Guests sipped sparklers from Topo Chico, brews from Estrella Galicia paired with a Spanish style bite from Chef Rafael Barrera of Cooking with my Doctor and inventive cocktails fromRums of Puerto Rico, Bombay Sapphire and a Smoked Old Fashioned from Courvoisier. Other cocktail experiences included the Collins Bar presented by Effen Vodka, a Perfect Margarita presented by El Tesoro Tequila, neat tastings from Glenfiddich and Woodford Reserve, the Heritage Rum Cart with Don Q Rum, Gubba Rum and the Rums of Puerto Ricoand The Manhattan Project featured premium bourbon from Eagle Rare, Buffalo Trace, Town Branch Distillery, Woodford Reserve Double Oaked and Breckenridge PX Cask Finishtopped with Luxardo cherries. Guests learned about pairings at the TarTare Bar showcasing Chef Gabriel Fenton of Bourbon Steak at Turnberry Isle Miami and the wines of Antica Napa Valley, stunning Rosés from Chateau D’Esclans paired with organic pâtés from Les Trois Petits Cochons, a “Taste the City” culinary spotlight featuring Chef Miguel Massens and the racy portfolio of Wines of Germany, an Italian-inspired bite from Chefs John Gallo and Rene Reyes of Pinch Kitchen paired with the wines of Frei Brothers and a special Malt and Mangalitsa pairing featuring Westland Distillery. Cochon555 debuted a new experience called Trompo “Hora de Familia” hosted by Chef Steve Santana of Taquiza in celebration of its first Global Cochon555 event in Mexico City later this year, as well as Royal Oak’s Natural Charcoal “Dirty Steak” Tomahawk Bar with Chef Sean Brasel of Meat Market Miami Beach. Just before awards, guests received a sweet ending via an Innovative Dessert Pop-Upspotlighting pastry Chef Maria Orantes of Food Comma Hospitality Group working with The Perfect Puree of Napa Valley.  A spectacular array of wines grouped under the “5 Winemakers” banner featured; Twomey Cellars; Silver Oak and Kosta Browne while other beverage offerings included Cooper & Thief Cellarmasters, Wines from Rioja and Wines of the World.  The headline all-star butcher, Andres Barrientos from Miami Smokers helped raise money for charity with the silent auction and pop-up butcher shop adorned with gifts from John Boos & Co., and participating sponsors of the event.

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