If you follow this site, or my social media, you’ll know that one of my (two) favorite food events in Chicago every year is COCHON555. The full-on event is in the Spring (see recap here), and in late summer/early fall the team hosts HERITAGE BBQ. Heritage BBQ is a culinary competition featuring five chefs cooking whole, heritage breed pigs with their signature flavors and techniques. Of course, there’s not only lots of food; there is also lots to sip on (alcoholic and non). It’s just always a great afternoon.

This year, it fell on 9/11, a #SundayFunday, and just a gorgeous & sunny day here in the city. We made our way to the Loews Hotel rooftop and found a great space with even better people, all sipping wine or a Tocayo beer and walking from station to station to try the delicious dishes being served. The boyfriend and I did the same – picked up a couple of beers and made our way to the closest formed line.







It was clear, however, which station served our favorites: TOPOLOBAMPO. I know you’re not surprised, and neither was I. Chef Andres Padilla of Rick Bayless‘ famed Topolobampo created 6 different dishes, each showcasing the pig in a different way. There was a pickled dish, a slow-cooked dish, a simmered dish… all delicious. Chef Rick Bayless was next to the station, tasting each dish as well. I fangirled a bit, and got a photo with him. 😀


Our favorite dish of the entire day was the one we went back to for a second serving: Cochinita Pibil Tacos. Y U M. Rich, savory, spicy, a bite from the pickled red onion. It was just perfectly executed, and worth waiting in a second long line to get some more.



{slow-roasted, achiote-marinated pork shoulder, on a fresh corn tortilla with porky black beans, pickled red onion and habanero salsa}




When we wanted to take a mini break from eating, we moved on to sipping. I found two yummy cocktails to sip on, and realized that one of my new favorite types of cocktail is a spicy one. The spicy margarita from the Don Julio booth hit the spot on this warm day, and helped cut through all the rich pork dishes.



Another break was taken when I spotted my favorite cheese at the Pastoral table: Truffle Tremor.


We ran into some good friends, and fellow pork-lovers at the event. Shout-out to these guys, who are always ready for a group photo. :-p  {and early Happy Birthday to the one who’s always in the front of the photo – my great friend, Peter!}


There was a butcher demo, and then… just when I thought I was so full, Chef Cory Morris of the Loews’ Rural Society rolled out a cart featuring 60lbs of tomahawk beef, roasted in their wood oven.



It was an instant heart-in-eyes moment, and heart-in-tummy too. Chef Cory sliced up very generous servings for each guest in line, while his sous chef finished plating with some chimichurri on top. If you haven’t eaten at Rural Society, know that the meats are cooked to perfection, and you get that nostalgic smoky aroma and taste along with it. {Read about my dinner at Rural Society here} Add in the chimichurri as the perfect accoutrement to this steak and it was divine. That was our last bite of the day, and so worth waiting for!


This is a competition afterall, and guess who won… yup, Chef Andres Padilla! He deserved the win hands-down. Congrats to Chef Andres and his team! Not only did they cook the winning dishes, but they were welcoming, friendly and funny at their station. Everyone loved them (and their food).

Here’s to next year’s Cochon555 events!

Woot! #teamsouthafrica and our Braai always on a banner at the Cochon555 events!
Woot! #teamsouthafrica and our Braai always on a banner at the Cochon555 events!

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