Food & Wine Classic: Heritage Fire is the little piggy growing up | AspenTimes.com

Food & Wine Classic: Heritage Fire is the little piggy growing up

Linda Hayes
Special to The Aspen Times

"It's honest food from real farmers, put forth by passionate butchers and chefs using primal cooking techniques," says Brady Lowe, visionary founder of Cochon555's national competitive chef series, about Heritage Fire, the no-protein-barred, wood-fired event that's become the local darling of the Food & Wine weekend. "Together, through eating, we become stewards of the good food movement, motivate change and influence our food system from pasture to plate."

One of the primary live-fire events in the country right now, Heritage Fire, aka "Fire" if you're one of the initiated, will take over the lawn on the slopes at Snowmass Base Village for the fourth year Saturday afternoon. Beyond furthering the cause (the event is a fundraiser for Cochon555's sister charity, Piggy Bank), it's an all-in, lip-smackin', free-flowing good way to go the distance with 3,200 pounds of heritage breed meat – and all the trimmings to go with.

SINK YOUR TEETH INTO THIS

Whole pigs. Dry-aged beef. Duck. Octopus. Lamb. Goat. Squab. Eel. Rabbit. Oysters. Chicken. Sturgeon. Artisan cheeses. Heirloom vegetables. Disparate as these ingredients may seem, they all have one thing in common: Heritage, or heirloom, origins.

What else may show up on grills, in smokers and on spits or asados over fires lit before dawn and fanned to ideal cooking temps is anybody's guess. Chefs are known to pack their Yetis and load up trucks to haul product, ingredients, cooking utensils and other essential gadgets from as near as Aspen and as far as Houston, Chicago and Seattle.

Once it all hits the slopes, so to speak, nuanced techniques enhance the back-to-basic concept of (not to mention flavor rendered by) cooking quality meats over flame.

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THE MAIN COURSE

Fifty-plus chefs and butchers preparing heritage-breed protein translates on the plate to over 100 different dishes. Survey the crowd, keep your eye on what's passing by on plates and make sure to circle back to stands you've already hit for whatever's hot off the fire.

National chefs include Shota Nakajima of Adana in Seattle, and Houston's Manabu "Hori" Horiuchi of Kata Robata and Jean-Philippe Gaston of Izakaya in Houston.

Coming up from Denver are Steve Redzikowski of Acorn, Joshua Pollack of Rosenberg's, Bill Miner of il Porcellino, Nate Singer of Blackbelly, Daniel Asher of River & Woods, and Kelly Whitaker of Basta, to name a few.

Aspen homeboys include Jim Butchart and Andrew Helsley of Aspen Skiing Co., Kyle Wilkins of Home Team BBQ and Eddy Chaimal of Venga Venga. And a special former Snowmass chef, Will Nolan makes a return appearance from his new home as executive chef at Telluride's Hotel Madeline.

SIDE DISH

As tempting as it is to go all hog, stray from the meat for a moment now and then to forage for a sampling of craft cheese from Les Trois Petits Cochons, Yellow Door Creamery, Cello, Savile Row, La Quercia and Cypress Grove at the Cheese Experience. Go raw at the Tartare Bar. Get a hit of sweet at a Pop-Up Pie shop by Mike's Pies and Swine and Sweets, an innovative spin on dessert spotlighting notable pastry chefs working with Perfect Puree of Napa Valley. Check out the new Tromp "Hora de Familia" experience, celebrating the first Global Cochon555 event in Mexico City later this year, as well as Royal Oak's Natural Charcoal "Dirty Steak" Tomahawk Bar. And swing by the Pop-Up Butcher Demo and Silent Auction with celebrated butchers Kate Kavanaugh and Josh Curtiss of Western Daughters in Denver.

PAIR IT UP

From Topo Chico sparklers to premium cocktails from Breckenridge, Buffalo Trace and other top distilleries at the Manhattan Project, El Tesoro Tequila margaritas to rosé from Chateau D'Esclans, there is a perfect pairing for every tidbit and taste. Silver Oak, Kosta Browne, Pax Wine Cellars, Sandhi, and Twomey Cellars will be pouring wines, as well.

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