2015 Cochon 555 Competition in Los Angeles

Chef Walter Manzke of République is the winner.
Chef Walter Manzke of République is the winner of LA 2015 Cochon 555 competition. From left to right: Kris Morningstar of Terrine, Steven Fretz of The Church Key, Ricardo Zarate, Toni DiSalvo of CAST, Ray Garcia 2014 Grand Cochon winner, Brady Lowe founder of Cochon 555.

by Sophie Gayot

 

UPDATE, MARCH 29TH: And the winner is chef Walter Manzke of République. Congratulations! But I have to say that all the chefs put lots of time and efforts to create tasty dishes, and served them putting on a show. See all the photos below.

 

There are many cooking competitions, but Cochon 555 is a special one — so much passion! The participating chefs start getting crazy a month before, and the frenzy keeps building as the event gets closer. (The event has gained so much momentum that the winner now includes the title in his bio.) Brady Lowe started this traveling culinary competition and tasting event, which includes five chefs, five pigs and five winemakers, and throughout its seven years of existence more than 11 tons of heritage pork have been served around the country.

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S.Pellegrino 2013 Almost Famous Chef Competition Winners

2013 Almost Famous Chef competition  Kristen Thibeault with Sophie Gayot
2013 Almost Famous Chef competition winner Kristen Thibeault with Sophie Gayot

by Sophie Gayot


The winners of the 11th S.Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef competition, held at The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in St. Helena, Calif., have just been announced.


During two challenges, The Mystery Basket yesterday, and The Signature Dish today, ten competitors had to prove to the judges that they can cook. The chef judges were Rick Moonen, Tony Mantuano, Jean Joho (2012 GAYOT.com Best Restaurateur in the US), Michel Richard, Susur Lee, and Mark McEwan; the media judges Dana Cowin, Mitchell Davis, Jacob Richler, Betsy Andrews, and me.

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As Seen on USA TODAY

Kitty Bean Yancey
Writer Kitty Bean Yancey at Peter Luger in Brooklyn

by Sophie Gayot


Kitty Bean Yancey, a leisure writer for USA TODAY since 1982, has also developed a passion for food — after dating a Parisian, she says. Frankly, I think it is a good thing.


A few weeks ago, Kitty contacted thirteen of us from the world of food and asked us each to name two of the best steakhouses in the U.S. Here are the finalists from the results: http://travel.usatoday.com/destinations/dispatches/post/2012/07/expert-panel-chooses-best-us-steakhouse-finalists/800433/1

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Chef Challenge in Santa Monica, CA

Sophie Gayot - Nyesha Arrington
Winning chef Nyesha Arrington with Sophie Gayot

by Sophie Gayot


Last Saturday, I was at the 21st Santa Monica Festival which this year included a “Food Salon.” Besides local food trucks and cooking demonstrations, there was also a farmers market “Chef Challenge” in which Nyesha Arrington of Wilshire restaurant (who appeared on TV’s Top Chef season 9) and John-Carlos Kuramoto of Michael’s restaurant had fifteen minutes to create a dish using ingredients provided from the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market and Whole Foods. The dish had to be easy to make, fast and affordable, and good, of course. With the limited facilities on the stage, it could only be cold, so the two chefs each prepared a salad.


I was one of the judges along with Margo True of Sunset Magazine and Josephine Miller of the City of Santa Monica’s Office of Sustainability & The Environment. During the fifteen minutes of preparation, we enjoyed emcee Eddie Lin.

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2012 Cochon 555 Competition in Los Angeles

Emily Ford - Ethan Ford - Sophie Gayot - Ben Ford
2012 Cochon 555 winner chef Ben Ford, his wife Emily, his son Ethan with Sophie Gayot

by Sophie Gayot

UPDATE 5/06/12 : The winner is Ben Ford, Ford’s Filling Station in Culver City. See photos of the event in the gallery below.

Once again, I enjoyed judging the competition!


On May 6, five top LA chefs will each prepare a 175-pound, heritage-breed hog from head to toe for a friendly competition called Cochon 555. This ten-city touring event is the only culinary competition of its kind in the country and will help family farms sustain and expand their businesses. Competing in the LA stop will be Neal Fraser, Ben Ford (Ford’s Filling Station), Jason Neroni (Superba Snack Bar), Micah Wexler (Mezze) and last year’s winner, Chad Colby (Osteria Mozza). To support the event and its worthy cause, I will be there with other local judges to determine a winner based on presentation, utilization and overall best flavor.
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