Behind the Scenes at Cochon Heritage Fire

Cochon Heritage Fire in Napa on August 13th was an Epicuring extravaganza for lovers of heritage meats, with sweaty chefs, hot fires and great wines and beers. Everyone who knows me is well aware this is my favorite food event of the year. Susie and I headed up to St. Helena on Saturday to be a part of the third annual meat and fire fest now known as Cochon Heritage Fire, and previously aka Primal Napa. The setting was Charles Krug winery –a historic property –that is a picture perfect setting for fire cooking alongside the vineyards, with the Greystone at the Culinary Institute of America as a backdrop.

Check out Susie Wyshak’s photos –which the SF Chronicle featured in it’s blog post about the event!

Brady Lowe, the founder of Cochon Heritage Fire ramped things up this year, with whole animal heritage breeds including 2,000 lbs of lamb, goat, guinea fowl, chicken, rabbit, and salmon. There was a wood-fired theatre-like kitchen with 25 chefs from around the country cooking, and butcher demonstrations by our friend Dave The Butcher of Marina Meats and Avendano’s as well as Joshua Applestone of Fleisher’s in New York, and author of “Butcher’s Guide.” The Reverend of Pork, Mr. Michael “Sully” Sullivan of Blackberry Farm in Tennessee presided, blessing the beasts (and coordinating all of the meat deliveries -which he does with great enthusiasm). What I love most about this event is the sense of community –because it’s not a competition–so the chefs & butchers collaborate and share their talents to make all of the dishes memorable and unique to the protein. Over all 100 birds, 4 goats, 4 lambs, a half cow, 400 oysters, 7 salmon and 100 loaves of toast were presented (and consumed).


Some of the Memorable Tastes:

  • John Fink of The Whole Beast cooked up a supremely delicious whole goat in a goat’s milk tandoori marinade paired with an heirloom cucumber salad- preserved lemon & onion salad on a pita with harissa sauce. I was licking my chops.
  • Jeremy Fox’s stuffed leek with offal, blood sausage “toast” and side of Gavenstein apple was so unusual and tasty –he has a way with the veggies –and combines ingredients in such unique ways.
  • Whole smoked pig from Le Cochon Volant. Nuff said.
  • Pit-roasted wood ear, oyster and morel mushrooms from King of Mushrooms and cooked by Josh Adams from June Restaurant. Still thinking about this dish 2 days later.
  • Goat tostadas and Black Pig Bacon BLT salad from John Stewart and Duskie Estes of Zazu and Black Pig Farm. Love these chefs and their tireless energy and enthusiasm for cooking and community.
  • Team Toast –led by dentist -farmer Peter Jacobsen and cohorts including Stanley Cheng of Meyer (the makers of Anolon cookware) were perhaps the most engaging of the bunch. Their grilled toast was another hit again as it was last year –the combo of butter, olive oil, herbs, veggies, cheese and smokiness made for an addictive dish. Plus they finished with cinnamon toast –which was the only dessert of the day!
  • The roasted new potato salad from Smoakville.
  • Michael Tuohy of Dean & Delucca cooked whole king salmon with a pumpernickel creme fraiche and a cuke relish
  • Forest Fed Hams from Nicholas Heckett of Woodlands Pork in Kentucky –deep flavor. The pigs munch on hazelnuts and are smoked in bourbon barrel wood.

Following Heritage Fire on Sunday, Jeff Blaum and Katie Simpson of Chase Cellars hosted the day after bbq. It was a casual afternoon spent eating, drinking and “do you remember?’s” with Brady Lowe and Clare Baxter of Cochon, Dave the Butcher carved up a whole lamb, and John Fink and Michael Sullivan bbq’ed the lamb and “Secreto” the coveted Iberico de Bellota from Fermin, tortillas, a side of cornrelish and slaw and and rabbit kielbasa. All were paired with the new Cochon Acme Rose, lots of beer and plenty of water.

Hungry for more? Stephanie Rosenbaum, a friend and food writer wrote a terrific story on the event in KQED Bay Bites.

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