Perbacco's Staffan Terje Won Cochon 555 Yesterday. Our Shirt Lost
It was around the time we snared our first assortment of plates ― small, compostable tan ones decked out with roasted smoked pork loin and dark, blood-red bologna tucked between orange mostarda-smeared bread slices, courtesy of Morgan Maki's Bi-Rite team. We pivoted away from the growing line and settled, standing up, of course, at a cloth-covered circular table adjacent to a few nice bottles of Pinot Gris.
Andrew Simmons The Fairmont's Gold Room was packed tight as a factory feedlot.
At that moment, we heard, pretty much as soon as we took our first bite of the loin, a man in white chef's garb to our left chuckle to a friend as he surveyed the scene: "The pigs being eaten aren't the only pigs here." They both laughed, and we got what was meant: Cochon 555 was a feeding frenzy. People were crammed into the Fairmont Hotel's sumptuous yet sweaty Gold Room, milling like penned, heritage-free livestock looking for the trough.
Nonetheless, as hectic as it appeared, the spectacle gave way to food nearly universally of a quality rarely enjoyed in the midst of sashaying across a body-stuffed carpet, balancing wine glasses, brochures, cameras, and a wedding-cake tower of plates.
It's no way to eat, and consuming such delicious food in such a state ― everything from Namu's pork stewed in miso, Pizzeria Delfina's braciole, and Flour + Water's magnificent tortellini in brodo with Parmesan foam (pretty much the whole spread coming from Thomas McNaughton's stand, really) made us long for a table, comfortable chairs, and some Zout. Spills were inevitable, and we counted ourselves lucky to make it home with a minute, solitary smudge (Perbacco's ragu, we think) on the front of our shirt.
SFNoobs/Flickr Hell on your dry-cleaning bill.
The judges ate in a more serene setting, we believe, behind closed doors. They, along with the guests, picked a winner we didn't anticipate: Staffan Terje of Perbacco. We'd guessed the prize would go to Maki or McNaughton ― Maki in the event the expressed essence of the pig proved the deciding factor, Flour + Water's chef if dishes were evaluated on the basis of overall excellence.
All in all, it was a fun, boozy night ― if the many liver-hued chefs' faces were any indication. Today, we're off to the dry cleaners ― and eating the first of many salads we will have this week.