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Like A Pig in Mud: Eating Through Vegas' All Star Cochon 555

[Photos: Matthew Kang]

After three years of national touring, the extraordinary pork-centric feast of Cochon 555 took the celebration of swine to a new level at the first-ever All-Star tasting event held last night within the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas. Instead of the usual five chefs and five heritage-breed pigs, as we saw here in LA, the Cosmo housed ten chefs, four butchers, and a staggering fourteen pigs on full display. That’s over 2200 pounds of heritage breed pork prepared by the likes of Jamie Bissonette (Coppa – Boston), Mary Dumont (Harvest – Boston), Duskie Estes & John Stewert (Zazu – Sonoma), Devin Knell (French Laundry – Yountville), Top Chef alum Stephanie Izard (The Girl and the Goat – Chicago), John Sundstrom (Lark – Seattle), Andy Ricker (Pok Pok – Portland), Jeremy Fox (Napa), and David Varley (Michael Mina – San Francisco).

Whereas Cochon 555 in L.A. took place at the airy Saint Vibiana, All-Star Cochon set up shop in the Chelsea ballroom of the Cosmopolitan, a massive space with dim lights, gold-chain chandeliers, and swankiness galore. In addition to the ten chefs and four butchers (including beloved locals Amelia Posada and Erika Nakamura of Lindy & Grundy), the event featured bites from the Cosmopolitan’s in-house restaurants, including Jose Andres’ Jaleo and China Poblano, Scott Conant’s Scarpetta and D.O.C.G, Blue Ribbon Sushi, David Myers’ Comme Ca, Estiatorio Milos, Holstein’s, STK, and the foodie favorite Wicked Spoon buffet.

The most talked about portions were the pork belly tarte tatin with pineapple and soy caramel from Jon Sundstrom of Lark, crispy pig face banh mi from Stephanie Izzard, king crab with lardo toast from David Varley, the charcuterie selections from Alex Seidel, griebenschmaltz with lard crackers from Devin Knell, salted caramel ice cream sandwich with chicarrone encrusted cookie from Duskie Estes and John Stewart, and a personal walk-away favorite, the bacon cotton candy from Mary Dumont. A smoky, not overly sweet fluff with bacon candy in the center. Ryan Farr of 4505 Meats and Joshua Applestone of Fleisher’s Meats took on the whole muscle butchering while Lindy & Grundy and Michael Sullivan of Blackberry Farm did a live butcher demonstration of the pig's trim sections.

The resort’s local offerings also brought their A-game. STK served truffle sliders (though everyone who could walked away with the free-swag imprinted metal flask), Scarpetta had short rib ravioli, D.O.C.G. made ricotta basil gnudi with summer truffle, China Poblano boasted a moist shu mai topped with gold flakes, Jaleo had freshly sliced jamon iberico de bellota with osetra caviar plus a shooter of tomato cucumber gazpacho. Holstein’s featured their signature spiked milk shakes (Cap'n Crunch shake with chocolate peanut bacon?!?), while Wicked Spoon presented coconut panna cotta and mini red velvet cupcakes.

Unlike the other Cochon 555 events, All-Star didn't have a competitive element, it was simply a Vegas-level celebration of all things pork. So in the end, we’re the ones that win. Of course after the main event, there was a requisite after party at the Overlook Bar and Grill next to the pool, where guests indulged in more (!) pork bites and cocktails like the Stick a Pork in It, featuring Casa Noble tequila infused with chorizo. Yum.
·All Cochon 555 Coverage [~ELA~]
— Matthew Kang

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