Five pigs, five chefs, five wineries. That's the pork-a-licious formula for Brady Lowe's traveling culinary competition, Cochon 555, which returns to Napa on March 6. This year's lineup of chef-contestants couldn't be more enticing: Duskie Estes and John Stewart of Zazu, Dave Cruz of Ad Hoc, Curtis Di Fede and Tyler Rodde of Oenotri, Brandon Sharp of Solbar and Charlie Parker of Plum will each tackle one whole, locally sourced, heritage-breed pig to create a nose-to-tail feast. "I try to pick a group of chefs that all have different styles, to offer the most variety of dishes," Lowe explains. Each chef is assigned a breed of pig they've never worked with before to ensure an even playing field, and "remove them from their comfort zone," adds Lowe, devilishly.
The mood is all fun and play at this hipster pig-out, with live music, 10 food and wine stations and people-watching galore. "It's like going to the movies," says Lowe, "you don't want to miss anything. You want to get there right at the beginning and stay 'til the very end." Attendees and judges vote for their favorite chef, the winner is announced at the end and crowned the "Prince (or Princess) of Porc," and along the way five small vineyards offer a selection of their wines—local favorites include Pey-Marin, Ladera and Scholium Project.
Cochon 555 nearly always sells out ahead of time, so don't dally for the pig party of the year on Sunday, March 6, at the Culinary Institute of America. 2555 Main St., St. Helena. 5pm. $125-$175. www.cochon555.com.