While pork fans are rejoicing, Cochon 555’s Heritage Fire showcases heritage breeds from other animals, including cows, goats, chickens, rabbits, lamb and more. This year’s event returns to Charles Krug Winery in Napa on Sunday, Aug. 27 from 4 to 7:30 pm, with more than 50 notable chefs and butchers, each grilling heritage-breed animals against the bucolic landscape.
Wines from boutique producers, craft beers, and small-batch artisan ciders as well as a wide range of artisanal charcuterie, farm-house cheeses, ramen, oyster and other culinary varieties will be available to event attendees. And it’s for a good cause, as a portion of all sales benefit the Piggy Bank Charity.
SF Weekly met up with some of the Cochon 555 organizers and chefs to gain better insight. Here are the five best reasons to attend.
How the food is prepared
“Not only do the chefs cook everything over outdoor wood fires, they build their cooking apparatus themselves from a mix of cinder blocks, sheet metal, cast iron, and spool of every size and shape,” says Robert McKeown, Communications Director for Cochon555 and Piggy Bank. “This gives the event an ancient, connective quality to the way people have cooked for centuries. It’s the smoke-kissed cuisine of true community.”
What’s being poured this year
Cochon Heritage features not merely wines, but craft beers, wine-inspired cocktails, and artisanal ciders.
“From highly allocated Pinots from Kosta Browne to the innovative wines from ex-college Professor, winemaker Abe Schoener of Scholium Project, to Syrahs from Qupe and Pax and the famed Cabernet of Silver Oak, there are 50-plus different wines,” McKeown explains.
Learning about heritage breeds
What exactly is a “heritage breed”? McKeown informs us that they’re “the original, historical types of animals that came to our country with pure bloodlines and unique tastes decades and centuries ago. Heritage Fire is like a Noah’s Ark of live-fire cooking, celebrating the specific depth of flavors that only comes from raising these breeds sustainably and responsibly and roasting them beautifully in open air.”
A portion of sales goes to Piggy Bank Charity
“Piggy Bank is a Missouri farm-in-the-making that will serve as a genetic sanctuary for heritage breed pigs — and a safety net for family farms either starting out and struggling or simply in need,” McKeown says.
It’s not just pork
Not a fan of porcine dishes? No worries. Cochon Heritage Fire will feature, chickens, lambs, rabbits, ducks, clams, whole fishes, locally sourced vegetables, cheeses, fruits — and even ramen.
Chef Albert Ponzo of the Royal Hotel in Prince Edward County, Ontario is one of the event’s chefs and a member of Team Goat.
“We’re going to be creating a Sardinian-inspired goat dish and incorporating some fresh vegetables — done in a saddle-style of roasting,” says Ponzo, a two-year Heritage Fire chef veteran. “Goat, especially a suckling goat, has such wonderful aroma and characteristics.”
So get your tickets
Overall, this year’s Cochon is about variety and diversity. The special Saturday BESPOKE event’s goal is to bridge the gaps between food culture, hospitality and academia thus, making for an fascinating day-long food summit event before the Heritage Fire on Sunday. And organizers like McKeown celebrate the upcoming diversity of the Napa events.
“Every year, we more have more chef from different styles and cultural inspirations,” he says.
Heritage Fire Napa offers general admission and VIP on Sunday as well as tickets for the Bespoke special event on Saturday with a guided tasting and behind-the-scenes tour.
Heritage Fire by Cochon555, Sunday, Aug. 27, 4 p.m., at Charles Krug Winery, 2800 Main St., St. Helena. $75-$400; cochon555.com/2017-tour/napa/