Cochon555’s live fire culinary festival, Heritage Fire, returns to Snowmass
John Manion is under a spell.
Upon relocating from Detroit to São Paulo, Brazil, as a child, Manion experienced his first taste of the South American culinary scene.
“I think that universal smell of meat cooking over fire that you find in a lot of cultures really kind of put a zap on me,” Manion said. “And I’ve been drawn to it ever since.”
The Chicago-based chef and restaurant owner hopes to have a similar effect on the hundreds of hungry folks at Cochon555’s Heritage Fire event Saturday in Snowmass.
The live fire feast — bringing to town more than 50 notable chefs, butchers and restaurateurs — is a unique summer event with a mission.
Cochon555, the event producer, is a culinary tour that started in an effort to increase awareness and education surrounding heritage breed pigs and responsibly sourced products.
While Cochon555’s national events and influence have grown since its 2008 inception, its goal “has remained consistent,” Cochon555 communications director Robert McKeown said.
“Make no mistake, this isn’t just about delicious food,” McKeown said. “This is about supporting sustainable environmental and labor practices.”
From a consumer perspective, the event also aspires to “(raise) awareness of the fact that we can make better choices about what we eat,” Manion said. “It’s important to support the farmers who we partner with and it’s important to raise awareness that there are better products available.
“And if you don’t embrace that, (the farmers) can go away, and this way of life.”
Heritage Fire’s Snowmass presence also is important in that it allows the village to boast its piece of the pie during arguably the most foodie weekend of the summer (or even year) with the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen.
“Snowmass has always had a decent amount of people staying here over this weekend as Aspen is super busy and we offer much lower lodging rates. What has evolved is our programming events in Snowmass Village over Food & Wine weekend that align with the foodie theme,” Snowmass Tourism director Rose Abello said. “So people who are staying in Snowmass, locals and even those staying elsewhere in the valley have more choices, different and more accessible, in terms of availability of tickets and price points.”
The way McKeown sees it, what makes Heritage Fire stand out from Food & Wine are both its local, “hands-on” approach, as well as its focus on live fire preparation.
“Most of the people cooking are from Colorado, which is more or less the anti-Food & Wine,” McKeown said. “This is an event that the chefs do everything, from breaking ground to assembling their apparatus.”
He later added, “This is the Coachella of live fire cooking, if you will.”
As for the menu Saturday, one will find dry-aged beef, whole pigs, lamb, goat, squab, rabbit, duck, fish, chicken, artisan cheeses, oysters and heirloom vegetables to name a few.
Free-flowing wines from boutique producers, craft beers and small-batch artisan ciders also will be served.
For more information or to purchase tickets to Heritage Fire, which will take place in Base Village, visit cochonsnowmass.com.
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Good news for those that shudder at the thought of cooking: Snowmass Village restaurants will offer prix-fixe menus this Thanksgiving.