Punch Kings Final Competition Comes to Denver

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Over 50 bartenders participated in the bartenders’ competition at Cochon 555 events throughout the year for the chance to show off their skills at the final competition on Sunday, June 29 at the Curtis Hotel in Denver. Punch Kings, in its second year, is a competition within the Cochon 555 competition. Cochon 555 is a celebration of heritage breed hogs.  In each city (LA and Chicago, to name a few), five chefs are given a whole heritage breed pig. Each chef is tasked with creating nose to tail dishes for a panel of judges. The winner in each city goes to the Grand Cochon competition at the Aspen Food & Wine Festival every year. 

At Sunday’s event, Chefs Rich Byers (The Corner Office), Jeff Bolton (Kachina), Jason Brumm (Second Home) and Jae Lee (The Curtis) will also prepare 500+ pounds of heritage pigs — so show up hungry.

Punch Kings will showcase the 10 winning bartenders including Denver’s own Justin Lloyd of Star Bar.  Each contestant will create their own punch using a bottle of Breckenridge Bourbon. 

Before single-serve cocktails became popular, mixed drinks were made in large-format style, called punch and served in bowls. The classic version of a punch contains a variation of: spirits, sugar, water, spice, and citrus. 

The winner will serve their punch at a Heritage BBQ event later this year. The event, modeled after the World’s BBQ Fair is a tasting where five chefs will prepare barbecue pork in their favorite style — Hibachi (Japan), Braai (Africa), Asado (Argentina), Char Siu (China), Satay (Southeast Asia), Mangal (Central Asia), Luau (Islands), Regional American (Kansas City to Lexington to Lousisiana), and Barbacoa (Mexico). 

“This will be the most notable punch-themed celebration to hit the country since prohibition was lifted in 1933,” said Cochon 555 founder Brady Lowe. “I’ve always wanted to host a national event that celebrates the barkeeps that keep the boom of the cocktail culture alive and vibrant. There’s nothing better than a fine punch made with a whole bottle of bourbon to complement the philosophy of whole animal utilization and the flavor packed benefits of eating heritage pork. And, who better to bring the Punch Kings Competition to life than our great friend Bryan Nolt, founder of Breckenridge Distillery!”

Tickets are still available at http://events.cochon555.com/punch_kings.

Photo used with permission from Cochon 555.

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Hog Wild….Cochon 555 comes to Denver

Save the pigs…eat them! I’m headed to Cochon 555 Denver at the Ritz-Carlton this Sunday, April 3, for Kitchen Raised – eating, drinking and writing my way through a pig lover’s paradise.

Five Colorado chefs: Alex Seidel of Fruition Restaurant, Denver; Kelly Liken of Restaurant Kelly Liken, Vail; Frank Bonanno of Osteria Marco, Denver;  Lachlan Mackinnon of Frasca Food and Wine, Boulder; and Jennifer Jasinski of Rioja/Euclid Hall, Denver will take part in a friendly competition preparing a five 175-pound heritage breed hog from head to toe.

Head to toe cooking is not a new concept. It is however, becoming more well-known as butchers, chefs and consumers are looking for ways to waste less and bring new tastes to the table. By consuming heritage breed hogs, the demand for these animals will go up, helping farmers continue the animal’s bloodlines and continue providing for the consumer.

The breeds we’ll taste on Sunday are Swabian Hall, Hereford, Berkshire, Mulefoot and Red Wattle. I have never tasted heritage pork before, so the information I am presenting to you is based on what Cochon 555 provides on their website.

Later this week, I will be talking to Shannon Duffy of Tender Belly, the company providing all the pigs for this Sunday’s event. Shannon and his brother, Erik, are Berkshire pork purveyors and make some amazing bacon! I can’t wait to share with you what Shannon has to say about this event.

Swabian Hall is a breed from Germany and has a good reputation among foodies for its dark meat and a strong distinct flavor.

The Hereford breed is rare, but also well-known. These hogs resemble Hereford cows, with a reddish brown coat and white face. Herefords are known for their calm dispositions and their ability to thrive in pastures. It is a slower growing breed, and yields a rich colored marbled meat.

Berkshires come to us by way of Britain, and are the most popular of the heritage breeds. It is a black pig with white legs and is known as “Kurobuta” in Japan, and is a favorite breed among chefs because of its intramuscular marbling. The meat is brighter than most others and features a thick, delicious fat cap. (Um, is anyone hungry yet?) The meat is sweet and creamy with hints of nuttiness.

The critically rare Mulefoot breed is a black hog named for its solid hoof, like a mule. The Mulefoot recently won a blind taste test against eight different heritage breeds. The Mulefoot’s disposition is docile, and its weight gain is between 400 and 600 pounds before age 2. This breed is known for its premium hams and superior tasting meat, which is red with freckled marbling.

Last but not least is the Red Wattle, named for its red color and the fleshy skin that hangs under its jowl. This extremely rare breed adapts to climates well and is an excellent forager. Prized for its tender meat and hams, the Red Wattle is lean and juicy with its meat’s texture and taste similar to beef.

Attendees will get to sample pork dishes from the chefs as well as wines from five wineries. They’ll also get to help choose the “King or Queen of Porc”, watch a whole pig breakdown demonstration, and taste a whole roasted heritage breed pig and dessert.

Brady Lowe, event founder said, “…Pork-avores from Washington, D.C., to San Francisco get a chance to discover incredible breeds of pigs and family-run wineries.” Lowe created the event in response to a lack of consumer education around heritage breeds. He believes that by educating the consumer about heritage breed pigs, they’ll in turn make more-informed decisions around food purchasing and their overall health.

If you love pig – and all of you bacon freaks know I’m talking to you, then this is your event. Tickets to this Sunday’s event are $125. If you’re interested, purchase tickets here.