Heritage Fire in Snowmass hopes to stoke sustainability | AspenTimes.com

Heritage Fire in Snowmass hopes to stoke sustainability

Brady Lowe's goal via his nonprofit, Piggy Bank, is to raise about 600 piglets, help launch 100 small family-farmers into business and support another 300 — particularly those in need of disaster relief — with a custom business plan.

While it may sound ambitious, with each Heritage Fire event that Cochon555 produces, the chief executive officer and Piggy Bank founder is a few thousand dollars closer to fulfilling the foundation's five-year strategic plan.

One of these unique events will commence Saturday in Snowmass, drawing to the village dozens of notable chefs, butchers and restaurateurs who will prepare more than 3,200 pounds of meat, seafood and vegetables over an open fire.

From crudos and caviar to whole roasted wolfish, the 2018 festival, in particular, is the year of the fish, Lowe said.

Since Heritage Fire's Snowmass debut in 2015, the number of attendees has increased about 10 percent year over year, according to Lowe.

"The event has definitely grown. I think there's a lot of excitement around having 50-plus chefs all cooking different animals and showcasing a huge array of proteins and livestock," Lowe said. "The idea of Argentinian asado cooking has really expanded over the last three or four years."

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Lowe also believes a growing "good food movement" — an increasing public awareness and desire for real, sustainable fare — also is fueling the fire.

The culinary tour Cochon555 started a decade ago in response to the lack of education surrounding heritage breed pigs and responsibly sourced products.

As an honest food movement gains steam, however, Lowe and local farmers fear the gap between demand and supply will only continue to swell.

"For years, we have seen the demand for good food exceed the supply," said Jason Smith, Aspen Center for Environmental Studies' Rock Bottom Ranch director.

Smith, who also farms on the ranch, is one of the local suppliers involved with Heritage Fire.

"My biggest concern at this point is how to get good food to the entire community. Having access to good food should not be an elite thing; everyone deserves access to good food," Smith said. "A socially aware community needs to recognize the importance of creating systems that allow for food to be grown for their community."

These are all reasons why in 2015 Lowe founded Piggy Bank, which garners at least a few thousand dollars from each Heritage Fire event.

"We're going to have to figure out how to get family farmers to feed everybody," Lowe said, "because (the supply and demand) are not growing at the same rate."

Further, he speaks to the economic barriers that small family-farmers face, noting, "It's not an easy business and it's not one that makes a lot of money."

Smith, who started a farm with his wife in North Carolina in 2010, said that while the industry presents its challenges, more and more farmers are finding ways "of making a life that is healthy, balanced and profitable."

"To me, most farmers typically encounter their biggest challenges while trying to manipulate a natural system in an unnatural way," he said. "When we recognize that we can work with nature and seasonality, a whole world opens up."

Smith echoed the importance of supporting responsibly raised products, especially in regard to meat.

"A lot of people don't recognize the immense power that they have with their dietary choices," he said. "It contributes to an environmentally responsible, socially aware and economically profitable community."

Along with Heritage Fire's charitable component, the event founder hopes to offer valley locals a genuine culinary experience and educational opportunity in an unfussy environment.

"As much as we do cater to the out-of-town food tourist from the (Food & Wine) Classic, our main driver is doing an event for the locals and doing something that is more inclusive at a price-point. We get a lot of locals who don't necessarily go to the Classic, and this kind of becomes the event for them of the summer," Lowe said. "We're always trying to make sure the local community is enhanced or benefits from having an event. Everyone's learning together and that enriches the landscape and provides some diversity not only for the people who live there, but (also) for the chefs who are coming in."

Alberto Figueroa of the Viceroy Snowmass is one of those chefs who will be up early Saturday, experimenting with three cords of hardwood and massive piles of cast iron, sheet metal, cement blocks, metal spits and cooking grates and ties.

"It's (a lot of) adrenaline and it's not glamorous," the Puerto Rico native and executive sous chef said of standing before an open flame on a hot summer's day. "You sweat, you stink, but at the end of the day, it's what you love; it's your passion. I feel very proud and honored to be a part."

erobbie@aspentimes.com

IF YOU GO…

What: Heritage Fire presented by Cochon555

When: Saturday, 4 to 7 p.m.

Where: Base Village lawn

Cost: $150 for general admission; $200 for VIP.

For 15 percent off tickets, use the promotional code “industry” at http://www.eventbrite.com. Please note this promo code will only apply on Eventbrite.

For more information on the event, visit http://www.cochon555.com/us-tour/2018-heritagefiresnowmass.

PARTICIPATING CHEFS – HERITAGE FIRE 2018

Steve Redzikowski of Acorn (Denver)

Shota Nakajima of Adana (Seattle)

Manabu ‘Hori’ Horiuchi of Kata Robata (Houston)

Jean-Philippe Gaston of Izakaya (Houston)

Joshua Pollack of Rosenberg’s (Denver)

Bill Miner of il Porcellino (Denver)

Jim Butchart and Andrew Helsley of Aspen Skiing Co.

Hosea Rosenberg and Nate Singer of Blackbelly (Denver)

Daniel Asher of River & Woods (Denver)

Kelly Whitaker of Basta (Denver)

Jason Harrison of Red Maple Catering (Vail)

Alberto Figueroa of Viceroy Snowmass

Adam Vero of Hearth & Dram (Denver)

Oscar Padilla of Tamayo (Denver)

Eddy Chimal of Venga Venga (Snowmass)

Will Nolan of Madeline Hotel (Telluride)

Kyle Wilkins of Home Team BBQ (Aspen)

Peter Jacobsen of Team Toast (Napa)

Jason DeBacker of The Edge (Aspen)

Linda Hampsten Fox of The Bindery (Denver)

Felix Florez of Cherry Block (Houston)

Matt Lovelace and Greg Lowry of Bon Appétit (Houston)

Christopher Mosera of AikoPops (Denver)

Rebecca Masson of Fluff Bakery (Houston)

Butchers Kate Kavanaugh and Josh Curtiss of Western Daughters (Denver) also will curate a pop-up butcher demo and silent auction (100 percent of the proceeds will benefit Piggy Bank)

Participating farmers include Jason Smith of Rock Bottom Ranch; Jeff Bauman of McDonald Family Farm; Felix Florez of Black Hill Meats and the teams behind Carter Country Beef; Farm Runners; Shady Acres; Niceland Seafood and Seattle Fish