The annual traveling Cochon 555 competition, which pits chefs in major U.S. cities against each other in a nose-to-tail cook off using farm-raised heritage-breed pigs, arrives in L.A. this weekend.
Last year, L.A.'s chef Ray Garcia, then of Fig in Santa Monica, won both the L.A. and the national tournament and was crowned the "King of Porc" for his "Tacos El Ray" menu of huaraches, chilaquiles and coctel made with everything shoulder, legs, belly, blood and heart. He also won the L.A. competition in 2013.
Though he will only be judging the events this year and not defending his titles, Garcia will host two dinners leading up to Sunday's main event, which will determine which chef L.A. will send to 2015's Grand Cochon in Aspen this June to compete against chefs from nine other cities.
Both of Garcia's dinners will be held at his soon-to-be-opened BS Taqueria downtown. The first event, which takes place tonight, is a Chef's Course dinner featuring five chefs, including Garcia, Carlos Salgado of Tacos Maria, David Varley of RN74 in Seattle, Vartan Abgaryan of Cliff's Edge and L.A. pastry chef Roxana Jullapat.
Saturday's Large Format Feast is being billed as a preview for the chef's much-anticipated new restaurant, Broken Spanish, which is slated to take over the old Rivera space near the Staples Center. The dinner, themed “Big Beef vs. Heritage Pig,” will include a four-course dinner that pits a farm-raised Creekstone Duroc Pork against Creekstone Farm Black Angus Beef.
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"The feast will be a good opportunity for us to showcase not only Los Angeles product but dishes that are uniquely Broken Spanish," Garcia says.
Finally, the L.A. Cochon 555 will take place Sunday at the Viceroy Hotel in Santa Monica. Tickets are $130, and competing chefs include Ricardo Zarate, formerly of Mo-Chica; Terrine's Kris Morningstar; CAST's Tony DiSalvo; Steven Fretz of The Church Key; Walter Manzke of Republique; Nick Scafalbi of Cook’s Family Butcher Shop; and celebrity chef Nikki Martin.