Chef Grae Nonas Wins Minneapolis Cochon 555 Title
Cochon 555 Minneapolis winner Grae Nonas sprinkles sauerkraut powder atop the stuffed kolache that helped him win the crown.
Minneapolis has a new Prince of Porc. Grae Nonas, who came from Austin, Texas, to open Tullibee restaurant at The Hewing Hotel in Minneapolis, took the mantle during the local stop of the 2017 Cochon 555 tour. Nonas will represent the region at the national competition during Grand Cochon in Chicago in October.
Nonas, who was named a James Beard Rising Star Chef semifinalist in 2015 and Best New Chef in America by Food & Wine, came to the Twin Cities after his Olamaie restaurant earned critical acclaim in Austin. A source has confirmed he’s already moving on from Tullibee, but Minneapolis diners will still see Nonas among the growing number of star chefs in the area.
Using a Large Black heritage pig from Yker Acres in Carlton, Nonas’ menu consisted of some coma-worthy comfort food such as whipped lardo on a rye cracker, pork collar en croute with fermented leek and parsley, a kolache stuffed with pork sausage and gouda topped with sauerkraut powder, and an offal dumpling in a complex, nutty broth. His blueberry gummy bear and pile of sausage were both hits as well.
The event was a who’s who of local meat masters. Last year’s winner, Jorge Guzman of Surly Brewing, was competing with sausage, pot pies, flan and a delicious pork-stuffed olive. The Strip Club’s J.D. Fratzke came with a German-themed menu of pig-ear pretzels (with beer cheese) and tender currywurst. Thomas Kim of the Rabbit Hole wowed with a pork dumpling and some incredible pork-fat candies. Justin Sutherland of Handsome Hog took home a lot of votes according to event staff. His menu consisted of a gyro-tinged cracker, his take on a “Choco-Taco,” and maple cotton candy drizzled in pork fat for dessert.
Corner Table also took home an award. Laurie Hefner won the event’s Somm Smackdown for her wine expertise. Revival bartender Nate McLemore Raczkowski was named the Punch King and will travel to the national punch championship in the fall.
Proceeds from the event help elevate the conversation about local agriculture and biodiversity in the food supply chain, as Cochon 555 advocates for a “sustainable and profitable relationship for all” as it works to connect heritage breed pig farmers with those who cook the pigs. In 2015 Cochon also launched Piggy Bank, a farm-in-the-making devoted to providing free heritage breed pigs to small farms in exchange for transparent business plans that are posted online in the name of “open-source agriculture.”