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Living high on the hog as a judge at the Cochon 555 Heritage BBQ competition in Louisville

Photo by Huge Galdones  

Text by Dana McMahan

I wolfed down a second heaping serving of brunch, then realized my grievous mistake with a sinking sensation. I had to judge the Cochon 555 Heritage BBQ competition in just a couple hours!

To my immense relief, I woke to find it was just a dream. My stomach growled comfortingly. I’d be ready for the job at hand. And oh, what a job!

Cochon founder Brady Lowe selected some of Louisville’s best – and most local-loving – chefs to compete in a whole hog competition; each chef or team preparing six dishes making use of everything but the oink in a fat, happy heritage breed pig. And I had the finger-licking privilege of serving on the judge’s panel.

Brady warned us to eat lightly beforehand and advised bourbon to aid digestion. Luckily the spirit was flowing as the solemn group of judges approached our first plate. Armed with instructions to score for not just flavor, but also aspects like “pigginess” and whole-hog utilization, we bent our heads to the task with remarkably little sound other than some “mmmmms” and pencils scratching on the scorecard.

Following Brady’s advice to have one bite per item, half the dish if we liked it, and all if we loved it, I spent the next hour in serious concentration, savoring creations that Brady hopes will inspire chefs around the country.

And when bourbon and a full belly lulled me into slumber again, this time I found pleasantly porky dreams.

Photo by Huge Galdones  



Chef Annie Pettry of Decca, who took home the prize, served Red Wattle pork in the form of pig head croquetas, wood grilled ribs, and watermelon with chili-fried pig skin. Photo by Huge Galdones.



Photo by Brain McMahan





The author deliberating over a pigalicious plate from Proof on Main. Photo by Brian McMahan.





Editor’s Note: You can follow the author’s eating adventures on Twitter: @danamac.

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