Somewhere around the time the cooks from Mexique were doing shots from the spout in an ice sculpture pig, the incongruity between the poshness of The Four Seasons and the raucous lovefest for pork and other associated things like beer and rye called Cochon 555 hit us. But then we remembered all the porky goodness that Allium chef Kevin Hickey had served the night before at a dinner for the purveyors, and it seemed the right setting after all. Five chefs dished up hundreds of portions of imaginative food made in a competition which required them to use an entire heritage pig, and then just when their food was starting to run out, Hickey and his staff rolled out the gleaming stainless serving carts and started to dish up their own take on working class pork barbecue on a biscuit, carnitas on a taco and the like. We were there to judge (and were duly impressed by the cleverness and skill displayed by all the chefs), while our man Huge Galdones was on the scene with camera. Check out his slideshow of memorably porky moments below.
La Quercia Tamworth bacon served as centerpieces for tables.
The judges, including Allium chef Kevin Hickey in front, listen to their instructions.
Chef Andrew Zimmerman (Sepia) created a stew for the Le Creuset challenge; anyone who could guess all five ingredients in the dish could win a set of Le Creuset cookware.
The Butcher & Larder's Rob Levitt and Danielle Kaplan demo'd butchering a whole hog; later, the pieces were awarded in a raffle.
Competition chef Stephanie Izard and her crew assemble her dishes.
What's this, a Starbucks cup? Not exactly...
Izard's platter, the most entertaining of the bunch, was a tribute to fast food, including a Starbucks cup of pork broth, an "Al's Beef" (lower right) consisting of seared pork tenderloin with giardinera and dipping broth, a "pig face" McMuffin which set her signature dish on a tiny English muffin, and a Taco Bell gordita (lower left).
The appreciative crowd as the doors swung open for tastings. Many, such as the young man looking at his phone in the center, followed the event via Grub Street's tweets.
Jason Vincent's winning platter, including a ginger blood pudding which you scooped out of a bone, a butterscotch bacon donut, a pork loin sandwich on white bread (made with bacon lard), a pork liver chicharron, and a pork aspic with roe. Diners were also given latex gloves and invited to pull a hunk of pork for themselves from the serving table.
The Mexique crew gets intimate with the ice pig.
Amdrew Zimmerman announces the winner for his guess-the-ingredients competition as event founder Brady Lowe stands by. No one guessed all five, so there was a drawing between the only two people to even get four right.
The Nightwood crew celebrates their victory; that's Jason Vincent in the plaid shirt at right.
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