Go Now: Grand Cochon

Among the 100 things you should do before you die, attending the Food and Wine Classic in Aspen is a given. It is outrageous, spectacular, overwhelming to the senses. For the food lover, it is like being at the Oscars and roaming among the stars, eating, drinking, small talking.

The Food and Wine Classic 2012 is in full swing this week and parties happen as I type so my call to action here is a tad on the later side but here is the good news. There is a mini version of this event that you can still experience, the tail end of the fabulous weekend – the Grand Cochon.

If you are familiar with the Cochon 555 events, this is the big daddy of those. If you aren’t familiar with it, this is the grand finale of 10 nationwide events in which reputable chefs from big cities compete against each other by using heritage pigs in a snout-to-tail cooking challenge.

On Sunday July 17, starting at 3:30 p.m., in Aspen, the 10 chefs who won the competition in their respective cities will compete to win the Grand Cochon Crown. The event is at Hotel Jerome on Main Street and tickets are still available- which is why I decided to write this. Anyone can and everyone should go.

Here is why I love this event: first, the caliber of talent is spectacular. To get 10 chefs that are this talented and well-recognized to cook in one room is impressive. This year, some of the highlights include Iron Chef Mark Forgione, Jason Vincent of Nightwood in Chicago, Thomas NcNaughton of Flour + Water in S.F. and my personal crush Naomi Pomeroy of Beast in Portland.

Second, the food, from what I experienced at past Cochon events, is great. It is simply the best food at any event of this size, the tents and many of the parties at Aspen Food and Wine included. These guys actually care about winning, they work with great ingredients – varied breeds of heritage pig included- and they are not to feed but to impress. The quantity and quality of food are overwhelming and there is a corresponding wine and liquor category that goes along with it- reserve wines, craft beers, artisan cocktails.

Lastly, even without attending the festival, this gives you a great mini version of it without costing an arm and a leg. It is more intimate in many ways and a good teaser for planning a trip to Aspen Food and Wine next year. So, go.

Get your tickets at cochon555.com.

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