Snowmass Cochon555 Heritage Fire 2016
The 3rd Annual Snowmass Heritage Fire by Cochon555 was a display of finesse with over 250 whole animals roasted over open fires prepared by fifty chefs.
Article and Images by Contributing Writer/Photographer Rob Hollis:
Upon walking towards the venue I pass gleaming Jaguars as a mustached chef passes me to stretch his legs, been working all day and will be working till sunset, his only break today. Time to go get my AspenRealLife Media Pass.
Security seems like an old group of friends, maybe even Vietnam Vets, no radios for these guys, just another day in paradise. Kayaks and bikes on the Jaguars, mustache and badges on the good ol’ boys.
I grab a Gin and Tonic from Breckenridge Distillery, not shy about their presence, playing by the books of name tag contemporary craft liquor, tall bottles of crystal clear water adorn their renovated fifth wheel trailer, presumably on one of the first stops of a long liquid summer tour. Many of the employees line up to judge the punch contest as Adam Seger, from the Tuck Room in Chicago, puts on one hell of a show, the “Random Acts of Flavor” is more of a magic trick than a cocktail and the list of ingredients is a half-page long. Not to say that this drink is all about the show, but it was a tough act to follow, without a doubt. The contest fizzled out as the attendees poured in, each individual eager for one of the first events to occur during a big weekend of food and wine for the Roaring Fork Valley, everyone spread out on the lawn for some classic indulgences.
The Heritage Fire Experience
Steve Fried was pulling in a large crowd also with his show business style. Better known as “Octoman,” the self proclaimed octopus broker imports octopus from Spain to top chefs all over the country. His booth was one of the dozen or so that lined the perimeter which had space designated for chefs to set up an outdoor grill. This may have been the best part seeing 2500 pounds of animals cooking over diverse and innovative grills, from coals burning on the ground to vertical tower grill inventions that may be the first of their kind, all rigged to roast animals over fire to attain maximum flavor; dry-aged beef, shrimp, turkey, goose, sturgeon, eel, trout salmon, whole pigs, lambs, goats, lobster, squab, rabbit, duck, fish, chicken, artisan cheeses, oysters, and heirloom vegetables. Almost as if it were planned, the food from all of these grills started coming of and into the hands of prep cooks, these guys were on point, just another day on the job. Each vendor had a dish or two being prepared and the crowds were buzzing around the tables as the smells intoxicated the whole place.
A feast ensued, as shoulder to shoulder we jumble around with small compostable plates and forks, traveling from station to station tasting small dishes and samples. Like a walking buffet, the crowd slowly moves around the venue tasting different foods, first time the chefs are smiling all day. In my humble opinion, Beast and Bottle, from uptown Denver takes the cake with a Bison fore-quarter from Rock River Ranch with a slow roast rib served with fresh grilled radish halves and salsa verde. Many of the vendors represent food from local farmers, most notably Rock River Ranch and Sustainable Settings, both whose farms practice permaculture and other best management practices. Brady Lowe was there, the event organizer, wrapping up the auction of a pig. I asked him why he started his annual feast, he looked over at a $500 pit grill and said, “Because I didn’t grow up with one of those.”
With over 100 dishes prepared over fire alongside music, with animal theatre cooking, butcher demonstrations, the Perfect Manhattan Bar, Ramen Bar paired with Wines of German, Five Winemakers plus many more featured wineries, Modelo, a Tiki Bar with Perfect Puree, Mezcal Expressions paired with Oaxacan Fare, a Seafood Shelf, Artisan Cheese Bar, Rioja inspired Tapas, incredible Toast from Team Toast, a Tartare Bar and so much more, the 3rd Annual 2016 Snowmass Cochran Heritage Fire was a tasteful event indeed.