A Win for all at Cochon 555 in Houston

 I promise this is the last you will hear from us about Cochon 555 until June when Mark Decker takes another Barry Farm Red Wattle Hog to Aspen, CO.  In June he competes at the Grand Cochon against the other winners across the country from 9 other cities.  A big congratulations from Renee and I goes out to Mark and the entire Treadsack team that is comprised of some pretty talented men and women.   It was very easy to get swept up in the excitement of being the underdog that pulled off a surprise win but it is difficult to call hard work, talent and effort underdog qualities.

Absolutely the best part about Cochon 555 from our perspective was not pigs or food it was hands down people.  We have been working with the Treadsack crew a bunch lately between the Kipper Club Misery Loves Company dinner and in preparation for Cochon.  It has been a pleasure to work with this crew for many reasons but above all they are so thorough and respectful to not only us farmers but to products we strive to provide.   It may seem like a hard lined approach but we insist that potential chef’s and restaurants that think they may want to work with our farm come visit the farm and go for a walk with us.  It can be difficult for chefs to break away from their busy kitchens and honestly most feel this is a high requirement and therefore don’t come out, but we have always felt it was the only way to know your ingredient, your farmers and match expectations.  These chefs were the first to insist, before I even told them our requirement, to visit the farm and see our process.   Before Cochon 555 Mark Decker, Renee and I sat by the fire in our living room discussing all things food and farm.  He is hands down the most farm knowledgeable chef I had ever met.  In his spare time he has read the likes of Greg Judy and Ian Mitchell Innes and is well versed in the conversation of rotational grazing and animal performance issues.  In my book you can always trust a chef that knows to bring his own boots!  They definitely pass the farmer seal of approval.  Benjy, whose official title is Director of Restaurant Operations, did a terrific job of taking the barry farm brand and promoting it through their work.  Behind their station were glossy hi resolution pictures of our pigs and farm, he was kind and sensitive enough to ask if it was alright to use Seamus and Layla’s names on the menu, and was always one step ahead of the process in facilitating all the moving parts.   He did a much better job of promoting the link between farm/farmer and chef than the organizers did and certainly put more visible effort showing diners the farms role in the event.  Thank you so much Benjy.  One example of just how much the recognized the farm process and reflected it in their offering at Cochon was Leslie Ross’s beverage pairing.  The short of it was a Barley soda (we feed our pigs mostly barley), valencia oranges from the farm which she dehydrated and rehydrated, and whiskey that was infused with the jowl from the hog all dubbed the Red Wattle Ricky.   It not only takes talent to put that together but also hard work and a willingness to learn our farm and our process.  And that was just one example as the list for these guys go on and on.

With so many people that we have connections to in one room it was nice to put faces to names and have deeper conversations than just social media can facilitate.  Connecting to other farmers that share our passion for family farms certainly can make us feel more ‘normal’ than the average population can.  Spending a little time with chefs that always are working when we happen to be with them to talk about things other than food and restaurants is always a win for us both.  The men and women of D&T, Hunky Dory, Foreign Correspondents, Down House and the Kipper Club are long on both talent and generosity.  It was a pleasure to work with them and we look forward to furthering a long lasting relationship.

The mission of Cochon 555 is to hi light heritage breed hogs, farms and the restaurants that use them.  In our area we have a rapidly growing restaurant scene and very few number of farms that serve them.  All together making us a young food scene.  There were things that we thought could have been better, more transparent and emphasized differently but it is a natural outcome of a process in the beginning of it’s journey.  Renee and I are please to be part of the process that will make Houston a great city when it comes to food and quality ingredients and preparation.