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Cochon Pork Title Goes to Corner Table Chef

Cochon 555 winner Thomas Boemer (second from left) celebrates with fellow chefs Andrew Zimmern, Mike DeCamp, Gavin Kaysen, Steven Brown and Jim Christiansen, along with Cochon founder Brady Lowe.

Though he didn’t actually get a crown, Thomas Boemer is Minneapolis’ “Prince of Porc.”

The Corner Table executive chef earned the Cochon 555 culinary competition title March 1 with the help of a rare heritage breed of pig called the Large Black, which he used to create a menu of: Gamjatang, a spicy Korean pork bone broth with crispy ginger; pâté en croute au foie gras; crispy torchon of trotter with sweet shrimp, truffled egg and hot sauce; smoked jowl with white cheddar grits, pickled watermelon rind and sunflower slaw; and a 24-hour roasted apple lard puff pastry with smoked hock glaze.

Billed as an epic national pork competition and tasting event, Cochon 555 took over the Loews Hotel during its first visit to Minneapolis since being launched in 2008. Chefs Gavin Kaysen of Spoon and Stable, Mike DeCamp of La Belle Vie, Jim Christiansen of Heyday, and Steven Brown of Tilia—each with their own heritage breed pig—joined Boemer in the battle for pork supremacy. The chefs sought to impress a panel of 20 judges, who evaluated each dish on presentation, utilization and flavor; hundreds of attendees later cast their votes to help determine the winner.

Corner Table

Corner Table’s winning pork bites.

The goal of Cochon (a French term for pig), said founder Brady Lowe, is to educate chefs, restaurant owners and the general public on the importance of heritage breeds in building food diversity and supporting family farms. The evening included a live butchering demonstration, with Erik Sather of Seward Community Co-op and Mike Phillips of Red Table Meat tackling a Red Wattle hog from Pork & Plants farm outside of Altura, Minnesota. The sale of those cuts of meat raised more than $1,000 for The Art Institutes International Minnesota, whose culinary students volunteered during the event.

Local bartenders also got their turn in the spotlight, with Breckenridge Bourbon Whiskey as their main ingredient in creating a punch cocktail. Heyday bartender Britt Tracy took the title of “Punch Queen” and advances to Last Call, a national cocktail competition at Heritage Fire in Aspen in June.

Boemer, meanwhile, will go after the “King of Porc” title in June when he competes against the nine other city winners in Grand Cochon, held as part of the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen. 

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