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 thisApril 6-7 is drawing chefs, producers and food media from across the country tothe iconic Fairmont Banff Springs. The Cochon555 Tour is an annual series ofhyper-local food events focused on raising awareness of heritage breed pigsthrough an engaging nose-to-tail pig cooking competition. The movable feastvisits 14 major cities in North America each year, aiming to educate andconnect consumers with chefs and producers. Since 2009, 108,000+ consumers haveexperienced heritage pork for the first time, 2,200+ chefs and 150+ familyfarms have participated, over $1,100,000 has been donated to charities, andover $1,200,000 has been gone directly to local farmers. Banff is its onlyCanadian stop.

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

In preparation for Cochon555Banff, a lineup of local chefs will have just one week to creatively prepare a200-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 helppick the best bite from five competing chefs—while the main event sold outquickly, a few extra tickets have just been released, so there’s still time toget your ticket and work up an appetite for the ultimate weekend in therockies. This year, the participating chefs are Chef Chris Thomson of CraveMountain Grill (teaming up with Sunterra Farms to prepare and present a Berkshire heritage pig), Chef Christian Gosselin of theFairmont Banff Springs (paired with Eh Farms to prepare and present a Mangalitsa heritagepig), Chef JF Fortin from the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise(teaming up with Broek Pork Acres to prepare and present a Berkshire heritagepig), Chef Rory Germain (teaming upwith Nature’s Green Acres to prepare and present a Tamworth heritage pig)from Saltlik, and Chef Scott Hergott (paired withwith Bear and the FlowerFarm to prepare andpresent a Duroc/Landrace/Berkshire heritage pig) of the Sky Bistro. (Amust-visit, if you haven’t been.) Edmonton chef Blair Lebsack of RGE RD will beon hand as the resident butcher, running a unique “butcher experience” wherehe’ll break down whole animals onsite so that guests areable to purchase the cuts.

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

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