Brady Lowe, founder of Cochon 555, said it was pretty much inevitable the Cochon Heritage BBQ series would return to Memphis this year.
The celebration of ’cue is coming back to the world’s unofficial pork barbecue capital Aug. 30 at The Peabody hotel. It’s a standup tasting event that involves several chef teams challenged to use one whole heritage breed pig per team to win votes from an audience of industry professionals, media and noteworthy judges.
“Memphis is a really important city for this,” said Lowe, who started the Heritage BBQ series last year to bridge the gap between family farms and barbecue restaurants.
“I love the idea of bringing the tour (to Memphis). It’s a great event – you’ll get different teams, and they all take on a pig. They cook it, and guests get to eat a plate of food from each chef.”
The series is expanding this year to include stops in St. Louis and Louisville, Ky., in addition to Memphis. For the Memphis event at The Peabody, doors open at 7:30 p.m., and general admission tickets are $125.
VIP tickets cost $200, and doors for those ticket-holders open at 6:30 p.m.
Lowe created the national event series Cochon in 2009, and in addition to its flagship event the Cochon brand now includes a variety of experiences that take place each year. In addition to the Cochon Heritage BBQ series, there’s Cochon Epic, Cochon All-Star, Cochon Heritage Fire and Cochon Island.
Since Cochon’s launch, its programs have supported responsible family farming across the country. And that’s been responsible for some 35,000 people tasting heritage pigs, more than $300,000 going to support charities and more than $500,000 going directly to farmers.
“We created Heritage BBQ to inspire the up-and-coming landscape of environmentally conscience barbecue restaurants to utilize the whole pig,” Lowe said. “We have created a forum for the conversations within our network of responsible farmers, chefs, distillers, winemakers with those of existing BBQ restaurateurs to overlap in the hopes of raising awareness for the health benefits of using all-natural food, and to provide the marketing support needed by growing family farms.”
An aim of the Heritage BBQ series is to engage barbecue chefs and restaurants in raising awareness for responsible farming by hosting well-known chefs, craft brewers, winemakers and top distillers. One reason that conversation Lowe referred to is important is that today’s restaurants that serve barbecue influenced by global cultures represent “the single biggest opportunity for family farmers” to have long-term success.
A single relationship between a casual barbecue restaurant and a chef, according to Cochon, can double a farmer’s annual production.
Lowe said his goal is to create team-building events that showcase the potential of barbecue restaurants buying whole heritage pigs from family farms. Because the events are local, he added, that helps create word-of-mouth marketing.
“Barbecue needs a facelift, and Cochon is dedicated to practicing social and environmental responsibility, while continuing whole animal education,” Lowe said. “We’re reaching out to people who care about the conversation of local food made by real people.”