Photos by Justin Fox Burks
A lantern release at Cochon Heritage BBQ was one of many ways participants celebrated the late Mark Newman. The farmer's family is pictured above with event founder Brady Lowe, right.
When I ran into cookbook author Jennifer Chandler at the downtown farmer’s market Saturday morning, I smiled conspiratorially and said, “You survived!” Then we jumped right to the mini-Mason jars of lemonade moonshine consumed liberally the night before at Cochon Heritage BBQ, a snout-to-tail cook-off between local and regional chefs.
Held at the recently opened Beale Street Landing on the banks of the Mississippi, the event marked a return engagement for last year’s inaugural event organized by Cochon 555 founder Brady Lowe. “This event is about putting good food into the hands of the right people,” Lowe said, explaining his commitment to heritage breed pigs raised on small family farms.
At Friday’s competition, the right people included Rick Farmer and Miles McMath from St. Jude, Craig Blondis and Chris Taylor from Central BBQ, Jackson Kramer from Interim Restaurant, Ryan Trimm and Josh Galliano from Southward and The Libertine, Chad Clevenger and Nick McCormick from Alma Cocina and TAP Gastropub, and Travis Grimes from Husk Restaurant, the winner of the week-long challenge to prepare a six-course menu using one whole pig.
The evening also included tributes to Mark Newman of Newman Farm, who was instrumental in bringing Cochon events to Memphis. Newman, 58, died August 21 from a heart attack at his farm in Myrtle, Missouri, and Friday’s Cochon included warm and spirited celebrations of Newman’s legacy, personality and much-loved Berkshire pigs.
Newman’s beverage of choice, bourbon, also figured prominently in the festivities thanks to plentiful cocktails made with hand-crafted bourbons from American distillers. And then there were the plates of food, a remarkable culinary parade of flavors, textures and inventiveness.
Capturing the appeal of the classy barbecue isn’t easy, because every plate had appeal, but here were some of my favorites to entice you to attend Cochon Heritage BBQ the next time it comes to Memphis.
From Chefs Miles McMath and Rick Farmer: “Oysters Newman” made with BBQ bologna, Grand Isle oysters, and green tomato mignonette and “Cold Pork and Beans” made with pastrami tongue, pickled feet and ears, field peas, and peach mostarda.
From Chefs Craig Blondis and Chris Taylor: “Memphis Soul Stew” made with smoked ham, garlic sausage, beans, and peas and “Smoked Cooked Greens” (mustard and collard) made with crispy skin and belly and Creole mustard.
From Chef Jackson Kramer: “Smoked Potlicker” made with tasso ham, mirepoix and collard chips and “PB&J (Piggy Butter and Jowly)” made with smoked piggy peanut butter mousse, fig jelly with pork jowl, and kettle rendered lard cookies.
From Chefs Ryan Trimm and Josh Galliano: “Smoky Mountain al Pastor Slow Roasted Ham” on an angel lard biscuit with smoked peach jam and “BBQ Corndogs” with Carolina mustard.
From Chefs Chad Clevenger and Nick McCormick: “Chinese BBQ Dim Sum Dumplings” made with char sui-style pork, pork liver mousse, and smoked broth and “Caramel Corn” made with pork lard and bourbon.
From Chef Travis Grimes: “Peach BBQ Glazed Fried Bologna” with pickled peach relish, spiced peanuts, and lemon thyme and “Slow Cook Pork Shoulder” with marinated heirloom tomatoes, shaved spring onion, raw milk ricotta, and olive oil.