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5 Chefs, 5 Pigs, 5 Winemakers

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Tamworth pig

© Chris Quinlan
The Del Posto crew with their Tamworth pig

I was lucky enough to be a judge at the culinary competition Cochon 555 when the 10-city tour hit New York on Sunday at the Maritime Hotel. The worthy cause: raising awareness of heritage pigs and money for charitable foundation Farms for City Kids.  I took it easy during the pre-game warm-up, which included cheese from the fantastic Saxelby Cheesemongers, 60 Minute IPA from Dogfish Head and plenty of wine, like the fruity Kosta Browne Pinot Noir, in anticipation of  the main event: stuffing myself with nearly 20 pork dishes from four of the city's best chefs and an exceptional farmer who cooked their way through over 300 pounds of porktastic goodness! The chefs' fondness for pork fat, evident in dishes like farmer Michael Clampffer's pork brine Dirty Martini with a skewer of whipped lard and Resto chef Bobby Hellen's boudin noir tart in a pastry shell made from the pig's back fat, left me contemplating detox. My favorite dishes of the day: tender beluga lentils perfectly braised with pig stock and root beer, topped with head and shoulder cheese, shoulder confit and a liver mustard aioli and a waffle topped with pork whip and candied skin from Bobby Hellen; smoky sausage in a mini hot dog bun and spicy soup with white beans, sausage and head cheese from Del Posto's Mark Ladner and, of course, the winning dish from Fatty Crab's Corwin Kave -  pork with pickled chiles, ginger and jalapeños covered in fish sauce and deep-fried sambal and served with a skewer of fatty pig liver and heart.

Next stop for Cochon 555: Portland, OR.

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Congratulations to Nicholas Elmi, winner of Top Chef: New Orleans, the 11th season of Bravo's Emmy-Award winning, hit reality series.

Already looking forward to next year (June 19-21, 2015)? Relive your favorite moments from the culinary world's most sensational weekend in the Rocky Mountains.