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Cochon555 is coming to Banff

Banff is becoming known as a food-lover’s destination—a perfect place to go work up an appetite in the great outdoors, and fuel up with some fantastic Canadian Rocky Mountain cuisine.

An upcoming culinary weekend this April 6-7 is drawing chefs, producers and food media from across the country to the iconic Fairmont Banff Springs. The Cochon555 Tour is an annual series of hyper-local food events focused on raising awareness of heritage breed pigs through an engaging nose-to-tail pig cooking competition. The movable feast visits 14 major cities in North America each year, aiming to educate and connect consumers with chefs and producers. Since 2009, 108,000+ consumers have experienced heritage pork for the first time, 2,200+ chefs and 150+ family farms have participated, over $1,100,000 has been donated to charities, and over $1,200,000 has been gone directly to local farmers. Banff is its only Canadian stop.

Cochon555 kicks off on Friday with long table dinners at some of Banff and Lake Louise’s best-known restaurants. Local chefs join forces with guest chefs such as Anita Lo (Top Chef Master, Chopped: All Stars, Iron Chef) to collaborate on multi-course menus that highlight regional flavours. Communal dining makes it easy to meet new friends, as well as the chefs themselves as they describe each dish and chat with the crowd.

In preparation for Cochon555 Banff, a lineup of local chefs will have just one week to creatively prepare a 200-pound heritage breed pig, sustainably sourced from regional family farms, for the main event on Saturday afternoon. Imagine an elaborate 40-course, stand-up dinner featuring wine, craft beer and spirits, where you get to help pick the best bite from five competing chefs—while the main event sold out quickly, a few extra tickets have just been released, so there’s still time to get your ticket and work up an appetite for the ultimate weekend in the rockies. This year, the participating chefs are Chef Chris Thomson of Crave Mountain Grill (teaming up with Sunterra Farms to prepare and present a Berkshire heritage pig), Chef Christian Gosselin of the Fairmont Banff Springs (paired with Eh Farms to prepare and present a Mangalitsa heritage pig), Chef JF Fortin from the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise (teaming up with Broek Pork Acres to prepare and present a Berkshire heritage pig), Chef Rory Germain (teaming up with Nature’s Green Acres to prepare and present a Tamworth heritage pig) from Saltlik, and Chef Scott Hergott (paired with with Bear and the Flower Farm to prepare and present a Duroc/Landrace/Berkshire heritage pig) of the Sky Bistro. (A must-visit, if you haven’t been.) Edmonton chef Blair Lebsack of RGE RD will be on hand as the resident butcher, running a unique “butcher experience” where he’ll break down whole animals onsite so that guests are able to purchase the cuts.

After the competition — a maximum of six dishes must be plated for the celebrity judges’ deliberation as the chefs compete to win the title “Princess/Prince of Pork”, while guests get a chance to vote for the “Best Bite of the Day”, the winner will advance to the epic national finale, the Grand Cochon, held in Chicago in September.

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