For the second year in a row, Athleisure Mag is honored to have been the media sponsors of Cochon555 when it arrived in NYC earlier this month! This fun competition pairs 5 chefs x 5 heritage pig farmers x 5 wineries/cocktails to create a series of dishes for attendees to enjoy.
In addition to NYC, there are a number of other cities to participate and when the chef is crowned, they represent their city in the ultimate showdown!
We chatted with one of the participating chefs, Chef Fabian Gallardo of La Esquina. We wanted to know why he participated this year, the importance of Cochon555 and of course to get the scoop on his eateries.
ATHLEISURE MAG: What are some of your favorite things about this competitive event?
CHEF FABIAN GALLARDO: I like that it helps farmers promote their amazing product.
AM: Do you regularly compete in food competitions?
AM: For Cochon555, how did you decide what to prepare and what strategy goes into making these selections for New Pork City?
CFG: I utilize as much as I could to use all of the pork. I like to bring the pork's natural flavors.
AM: How important are competitive events such as Cochon555 and accompanying charities such as Piggy Bank for the culinary community and heritage breed pigs?
CFG: It's really important because as chefs, we can be ambassadors and promoters of heritage breed pigs. Great quality translates on a great final product.
AM: Do you have any personal messages about sourcing foods and products responsibly?
CFG: If you source the food from the farmer or breeder, they will help you out by giving you tips on what is becoming on season or what is on point at their farms.
AM: What inspired you to become a chef?
CFG: I like to learn about different cultures through their food.
AM: We've seen La Esquina's numerous locations as we're always looking for great places to get a taco! Are there any off-menu secrets our readers would love to know about?
CFG: We keep some specials at the brasserie, but the one that you should get off the menu is the Cochinita Pibil.
AM: What was the inspiration behind creating La Esquina and should we keep our eye open for additional locations?
CFG: The inspiration behind La Esquina was Urban Mexican Street Food. Whilst Mexico is very often associated with beautiful beaches, stunning views of paradise and tropical vibes, there is
that other side of Mexico, the grungy rock and roll Mexico City. No sombreros or gabanes here! Just pure leather and electric guitar, but with a Mexican twist. La Esquina has opened up two
new locations in just under a year and a half and there's no stopping us. Stay tuned!
But I think that Chicago is one of the greatest cities in the world. We have world class museums, the lakefront is spectacular and we live across the street from one of the greatest beaches that you could ask for – 6 months a year and then food! We own a handful of restaurants there.
AM: What is the difference between the Flagship and the Taquerias?
CFG: Our flagship location is actually made up of several different restaurants. Our famous storefront is a Mexico City style taqueria, we have a sit down Cafe and the secret ;-) underground brasserie. The Taquerias around the city are outposts of our famous storefront. Midtown, Upper East Side and Brooklyn have a lot of the same delicious food; tacos, quesadillas, tortas and basic sides, but they have a more causal atmosphere, and they also have drink specials! The Cafe is the comfortable in between which contains a couple of more additions to the menu. The Brasserie is strictly fine dining, with a rustic and cozy feel. While it contains some of the items on the taqueria menu, there are slight alterations adding an extra touch to our most well known recipes. You are just going to have to try them all!
AM: What are some of your favorite things to eat and drink personally?
CFG: Tacos obviously! I love French food, Italian food, Thai food and Alta California Cuisine.
AM: Do you listen to music when cooking and hosting? What are some of your favorites on your playlist?
CFG: Yes! When I am prepping food, I enjoy listening to Sigur Ros and Bob Marley. While I entertain it's Rock & Roll, 60's, 70's and 80's.
AM: Who are some of the chefs and restaurant that have inspired you?
CFG: Chef Walter Manzke, he is my mentor. He gave me the opportunity to run one of his restaurants and I learned a lot from him. He will always push you to be better every day. Restaurants that inspired me are Republique, Carlos Salgado's Taco Maria (any Taco Lover
should go there), Rays Garcia's Broken Spanish and Jesse Gomez and Jose Acevedo's Mercado, Jeremy's Fox Rustic Canyon. There are some more, but I will list two pages haha.
AM: How do you give of your time? Do you have charities/philanthropies that you participate in?
CFG: We like to give back to the community and we try to do one or two charity events per month. On Feb 10th, we will be at Our Town's Art of Food at Sotheby's.