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Conchon555 is an event that’s part of the nationwide Conchon U.S. Tour that honors heritage breed pigs. You might be asking yourself, “why do pigs need to be honored?” Well, heritage breed pigs are those whose bloodlines go back for hundreds of years; Tamworth, Old Spot, Berkshire, to name a few. Known for their hearty, flavorful meat and rich fat, these breeds are actually in danger of being lost all together because they’re not suited for commercial farming practices. Therefore, fewer and fewer farmers bother raising them at all. It’s a little counter-intuitive, but by eating heritage breed pigs, you create a demand for them and thus help to preserve them and all of their unique piggie qualities. Conchon555 celebrates these delicious pigs while raising awareness, another piece of the local food movement. I was lucky to attend the event representing Stryker Farm of Saylorsburg, PA.

So, the event itself is a judged food contest; five pigs, five chefs and five winemakers. Douglas Rodriguez from Alma de Cuba, Patrick Szoke from Alla Spina, Jason Cichonski from Ela, Mike Santoro from The Mildred, and Jeremy Nolan of Brauhaus Schmitz were the five contending chefs. Each chef used an entire pig and prepared an extensive menu of “bites” that were to be judged (Stryker pigs were used by both Santoro and Nolen). I tried my darnedest to taste everything, but there was food EVERYWHERE.

Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever eaten so much in my life, and that’s saying something.

My favorite “bite” of the evening was a 48 hour grilled pork belly, crema di lardo biscuit, and ramp salsa verde from Mike Santoro. Melt. In. Your. Mouth.

Also from Mike Santoro – one impressive piece of cracklin, or “chicharron”.

French Master Butcher, Marc Pauvert, butchered a whole hog in front of an awe-inspired crowd in 20 minutes.

The pig that was butchered on the premises was sold by the cut, and the proceeds benefited the Drexel University culinary school.

This is what happens when you’re short… The winner! Douglas Rodriguez of Alma de Cuba will go on to the National competition in Aspen.

Here at Penncroft we’re not vegetarians, but we do make an effort to make choices that benefit our health as well as welfare of the animals we eat, it’s only fair, right? In most all cases, heritage breed pigs live happy lives grazing and foraging outside until they are processed. And for that reason, I’ll continue to support local farms like Stryker and honor their pigs!