Cochon 555 hits Minnesota

One of the country's most ambitious culinary competitions, Cochon 555, will be staged March 1 in Minneapolis. That's National Pig Day, perfect for an event devised seven years ago to highlight heritage breed hogs and local foods (and chefs). Tickets are $125, which provides attendees with access to more than 36 dishes prepared "nose to tail" along with pairings of beer, wine and spirits. Each ticket buyer also will be entered in a contest to serve as a judge alongside Andrew Zimmern, and may attend the Cochon 555 After Party. Competing chefs include Gavin Kaysen of Spoon and Stable, Mike DeCamp of La Belle Vie, Steven Brown of Tilia, Jim Christensen of Heyday and Thomas Boemer of Corner Table. The winner goes on to compete for the title of "King or Queen of Porc" at the tour finale, Grand Cochon at Snowmass/Aspen, Colo., in June.

Minneapolis is the fourth stop on Cochon 555's 10-city tour. The evening includes food and beverages from a range of other local purveyors, and also a Pop-Up Butcher Shop — a live butchering demonstration with Erik Sather of Seward Community Co-op, to raise money to support culinary students from the Art Institutes International Minnesota. The event is at Loews Minneapolis Hotel, 601 1st Av. N. For more details about participants, associated events and to buy tickets, visit

Wilton names its trends

The bakers at the Wilton Test Kitchen and Decorating Room — and doesn't that sound like a fun place to work? — have named their top 10 trends in baking and decorating for 2015. Here goes: 1. Marvelous Merveilleux (mahr-vee-ooo) is a petite treat in French and Belgian pastry shops. Airy meringue cookies are layered with whipped cream filling and lavishly garnished. 2. Middle Eastern and North African flavors such as harissa, za'atar and Aleppo peppers in chocolates and custards. 3. Geometric sugar art featuring bold geometric patterns; 4. Revolutionary color confectionery that combines colors to make unexpected shades and hues. 5. The statement flower, garnishing desserts with a larger-than-life blossom formed from gum or paste. 6. Fondant watercolor, using painting techniques to create soft effects. 7. Dazzling delectables using metallics of gold, silver and bronze to "finish" sweets. 8. Dessert mashups and remixes: think pecan pie cheesecake and red velvet cookies. 9. Smoke meets sweet, with desserts made with smoked sugars and spices. 10. Fruitful possibilities, exploring the ever-expanding number of varieties of produce. To learn more, visit

And more trends!

Speaking of trends, here's what emerged from the Winter Fancy Food Show this month in San Francisco. The experts' top picks: 1. Cheese twists; enough said. 2. Breakfast all day, such as coffee beef jerky. 3. Turmeric in beverages, rice and more. 4. Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cabbage in new preparations. 5. Vanilla beans where you wouldn't expect them. Cheddar cheese? To learn more, visit