Last night, Cochon 555, the annual extravaganza of all things - and all parts - pork, turned the ballroom at the Ritz-Carlton, Denver, into the best kind of zoo: a mostly edible one. Somehow, through the sold-out maze of booze, bacon and butchery, we discovered key nuggets of wisdom about the five competing chefs (including winner Jennifer Jasinski) for this au courant guide to pork.
Jennifer Jasinski makes a mean seared Spam. Who would have thought the celebrated chef-owner of Rioja, Bistro Vendôme, Euclid Hall and the upcoming Stoic & Genuine has a thing for canned meat? Her housemade take on the staple, served with herb sabayon, loomed large among the five dishes that nabbed Jasinski and her team the trophy last night.
Try This: Euclid Hall’s super-smooth Leberkäse, a “liver cheese” that generally incorporates neither organ meat nor dairy product
1317 14th St.; 303-595-4255
Bill Greenwood is a talent to watch. The chef of Beano’s Cabin in Beaver Creek floored us with his intense Georgia Bloodswick stew, combining shoulder and head meat with marrow, blood, beans, smoked tomatoes and a cornbread disk for garnish.
Try This: Greenwood’s menu is always changing, but look for dishes that showcase both local game and pig, like an elk chop over pork-belly and butternut-squash hash.
Beaver Creek Mountain; 970-754-3463
Steven Redzikowsi simply masters the art of presentation. Think pork-loin pâté in eggshells, ramen in mini Chinese-food take-out boxes and cracklings used as tiny plates.
Try This: The OAK at fourteenth and Acorn chef-partner always turns out eye candy, but OAK’s grilled pork belly is a classic.
Acorn, 3350 Brighton Blvd., 720-542-3721; OAK at fourteenth, 1400 Pearl St., 303-444-3622
Meanwhile, the crew at Beast + Bottle shines at service. Kudos to them for getting out from behind their station and mingling with the giant crowd over platters of German-style sausage rolls and more.
Try This: Sit at the bar of this Uptown favorite, munch on the beloved fig-and-pig flatbread, and chat up manager Dean Copeland. He’s a peach.
719 E. 17th Ave.; 303-623-3223
Does anyone make head cheese quite like Justin Brunson? When it comes to the man behind Old Major, Masterpiece Deli and the Denver Bacon Co., that’s a rhetorical question. But he had a winning response for us anyway - see if you can find it on our Twitter feed.
Try This: Old Major’s daily charcuterie plate, naturally.
3316 Tejon St.; 720-420-0622