Brady Lowe, the creative force behind two of the nation’s most interesting pig-smoking events, Cochon 555 and Cochon Heritage Barbecue, is bringing the latter to Louisville next month.
What are those, you ask?
Both are feasts centered on cooking and eating heritage breed hogs, i.e. the best tasting pork going. Such pigs’ lines of genetic purity extend back centuries, but they were almost allowed to disappear as pork became the industrialized “other white meat” three decades ago and truly good, flavorful fatty meat was neglected.
About five years ago, Lowe, a culinary event planner in Atlanta, created Cochon 555 (“cochon” is French for pig), which drew together great chefs to cook heritage breed hogs for appreciative audiences who’d pay better than $100 for a seat at the table.
Those events now are featured in major metros across the country, including San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, etc.
Last year Lowe created Cochon Heritage Barbecue, a competition between chefs to cook several dishes made from the whole hog. Those dishes are judged by a panel of 20, and the rest are served to a few hundred attendees.
It is a Romanesque affair: all the meat you can eat, lots of bourbon, wine, oysters, cheeses—most everything your doctor tells you not to eat.
At the invitation of former Courier-Journal food editor and Food & Dining magazine editor, Sarah Fritschner, Lowe came to check out the restaurant and farm scene in and around Louisville to see if it was suitable for a barbecue event. Long story short, he was amazed with both, and now his roadshow will come to the 21c Hotel on Sept. 8. It will be the third and last Heritage Barbecue stop this year after events in St. Louis and Memphis, Tenn.
For Lowe, it’s not just about pigging out on pig and bourbon, it’s also about the promotion of better pork and encouraging farmers to produce heritage breeds.
“These animals are the best tasting there are, so why wouldn’t we continue to produce more of them?” Lowe said. “I also want to raise the profile of those farmers already raising heritage breed hogs. If we do that, then more restaurants buy them and we increase those farmers’ businesses. If you got just one barbecue restaurant to switch to heritage breed hogs, you could double the output of a family farm raising those hogs.”
While you might not recognize the Louisville competition chefs as barbecuers, you’ll certainly recognize their names:
- Edward Lee and Kevin Ashworth of Milkwood
- Tyler Morris of Rye on Market
- Coby Lee Ming of Harvest
- Levon Wallace of Proof on Main
- Annie Pettry of Decca
I’d say attendees are in for a good meal.
Louisville’s Heritage Barbecue event, set for the weekend after Labor Day, will be held in the lower level party space at 21C Museum Hotel.
General admission is $125 per person and VIP entry is $200. (To see what the extra charges get you, just visit the website.)
Lowe guarantees that those who spend the money to attend will enjoy a feast like none other.
“I’ve done about 100 Cochon events in the past five years, and there’s no one else yet doing anything like this,” he said. “It’s the best feel-good party in the country right now.”