LAS VEGAS Spoiler alert: This material may alarm vegetarians. But for lovers of meat—chefs and foodies alike—the new All-Star Cochon event at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas was an epic event. The Cosmopolitan and Cochon 555, a national culinary competition promoting heritage breed pigs, hosted the first-ever All-Star Cochon on July 24, at which 10 chefs worked together to prepare a snout-to-tail menu using pigs sourced in their local markets.
The event included more than 40 pig-infused dishes, four butcher demos, reserve wines, artisan cocktails, craft brews, and pork-centric desserts. Chefs from the Cosmopolitan’s restaurant collection (including Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Grill, China Poblano, Comme Ça, D.O.C.G., Estiatorio Milos, Holstein’s, Jaleo, STK, Scarpetta, and Wicked Spoon) joined additional participating chefs and butchers like Devin Knell of Napa's French Laundry, David Varley of San Francisco's Michael Mina, and Stephanie Izard of Chicago's Girl & the Goat.
The group behind the event is Taste Network, founded by Brady Lowe in 2003 as a response to his perceived lack of education surrounding boutique wine and cheese producers. “We started events to introduce more consumers to heritage meats and to draw attention to the chefs, farmers, and butchers who are making a difference in this space,” Lowe said. “We celebrate people who are favorably tilting the scales back toward local producers.”
This year, Taste Network held events in 13 major markets, including the Cochon 555 10-city tasting tour and culinary competition, the Grand Cochon at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, and the upcoming Heritage Fire on August 13 at Charles Krug Winery in St. Helena. “The event series started when I saw a need to get more business in the hands of heritage breed farmers. So many friends and industry associates were coming up to me saying that we needed to do something to engage foodies about this cause. There was a hole in the marketplace and a lack of consumer education,” Lowe said.
As for the Vegas addition, Lowe said the city had long eluded the Cochon national tour as a regular destination. “Our goal is to get to cities where there's a need to raise awareness or chefs who are doing amazing things for the cause. I always felt that Vegas needed a slightly different twist than the run-of-show national 10-city tour,” Lowe said. “When the Cosmopolitan approached, determined to bring a first-class sustainable food and wine event to their lifestyle events portfolio, I was inclined to share my all-star concept. I loved being in Las Vegas, and I hope we can return. It's a city that needs support for the sustainable food movement. The local community embraced the event, and it was really exciting to see such a great group of people step up and help the cause.”