Mandu’s Danny Lee Wins Cochon 555 DC!

Mandu Danny Lee Wins

Do you like pork? Love food? Want to support a culinary movement?

Then Cochon 555 is right up your alley.

Tonight’s winner — Danny Lee from Mandu, congrats!!

What exactly is he the winner of, you ask?

Cochon 555 features 5 local chefs utilizing 5 heritage-breed pigs to create up to 6 dishes using any and all parts of the pig. Pigs feet, pork belly, bacon, pork shoulder, sausage, blood velvet cupcakes…it’s all fair game!


All these people came out to get a slice of the action.

DC’s 5 competing chefs were Spike Mendelsohn of Bearnaise, Victor Albisu of Del Campo & Taco Bamba, Jeffrey Buben of Vidalia, Danny Lee of Mandu, and Jonah Kim of Yona. Each chef made unique, flavor-bursting dishes.

Winner Danny had an awesome menu displaying what he was serving up:

Mandu menu

My favorite from him? The pork belly slices sauteed with Kimchi…


If you haven’t had pork belly, you should. It’s a succulent, fatty piece of meat cut from the belly of the pig. It’s not one of those eat-it-everyday cuts, but oh man, when you do have it, it’s such a treat. Trust me, do it.

The dumplings were tasty too!

Mandu dumplings

I love Asian food…

Speaking of Asian Food, Jonah served up delicious dishes.

Yona menu zoom

Favorite here– the pork leg and kimchi stew:

Yona 2

Oh yeah, and he served it personally wearing a pig suit. Now THAT is dedication.

Yona Jonah

His menu also said there was a pork blood and chocolate cream puff. Somehow I missed that, but I’m salivating thinking about it..

Luckily, Spike had my sweet tooth covered.

Spike waffle

Think chicken and waffles, put with pork, maple hot sauce, and fois gras butter. This is not a drill. This is real. I had 2 just to make sure..

He made some other really cool dishes…

Spike (2)

…like pork belly with ice cream and blood sausage.


That waffle though…mmmmm…..

My other favorite dessert was Jeff Buben’s pork sticky buns

Vidalia sticky buns

They were gooey. They were bacon-esque. There were drizzled with caramel. And they were finger-licking AMAZING!

Vidalia (2)

As we waiting in line for his food, he overheard us say how amazing da buns looked. Then, he gave us “the best piece” to snack on until we got to the front of the line! So sweet, literally and figuratively 😀

Jeff has a few other dishes too, like this:

Vidalia pork shoulder with pimento cheese grits

Pork shoulder with pimento cheese grits! It was a little chilly outside, and this was the perfect, comforting dish.

We followed the savory by having another taste of pork sticky bun. Naturally.

And finally, Victor’s awesome bites. I loved his little display:

Del Campo all

Which brings me to what I think was the best-presented dish of the night:

Del Campo 4

Totally honestly, I don’t know exactlyyy what it is. But it’s definitely tender meat, slightly sweet “bun” (cornbread?) pickle, some cheese, butter…all the layers and flavors were brilliant.

After trying as many dishes as possible (somehow we missed a few), we headed over to voting:


Take a chip, vote for the chef that you think made the best dishes, and then get a pin that shows that you voted. Of course, I’ll keep my voting decision to myself 😉

So, in Cochon 555, you may be wondering what the third 5 is for. We’ve got the 5 chefs, 5 pigs, and the last 5 is for 5 winemakers.

The Browne Family Vineyard served my favorite wine of the night– a petit verdot:

Browne Family Vineyards Petit Verdot

For more information about their wine, click over here.

And as if all that wasn’t enough, there was also an elaborate cheese display from Righteous Cheese:

Righteous Cheese

The Perfect Manhattan Bar, aka the drink-this-to-get-DRUNK bar. They were strong, stronggg drinks. No complaints, just full disclosure.

the perfect manhattan

And they come in those adorable mason jars. Everything tastes good in a mason jar…

Estadio served up some porrons, aka the fun, spill-all-over-yourself-while-trying-to-drink-wine beverage. See that pointy spout? To properly drink a porron, you lift up the, err, pitcher, and pour the liquid into your mouth.

The further you pour and are able to get it in, and more points you get. Kidding, this is not a drinking game. Though really…maybe it should be..

Proof Estadio Doi Moi Porron

There was also family meal heritage bbq, served by Barcelona Wine Bar.

BBQ Traditions Barcelona Wine Bar

It was like pork noodle paella…obviously I ate it. How could you say no to that??

While the votes were being tallied up, there was bread pudding served. We ate it. Full. And it was worth it.

And finally, throughout the evening, there was a butchering demo taking place, done by the incredible Alexia Sutter from Red Apron Butcher.

Whole Pig

That’s the whole pig…

And this:

Red Apron Butchery head

is her starting the process by removing the pigs head. It’s graphic, and not necessarily “easy” to watch for all people, but it is impressive. By the time she was done that piggy was all carved up and ready to the bought and cooked. The cuts were bought on-site, and the money raised gets donated to Le Cordon Bleu. How cool is that?

SO, what’s next? Mr Chef Danny Lee Winner goes onto the final showdown in Aspen. He’ll be competing against the winning chefs from other cities. It’s got to be a FIERCE competition– hopefully DC comes out on top!

Such a great event. Everyone left happy, full, relaxed, and so satisfied. I overheard someone say, “It was like heaven.” I agree. A delicious, well-worth-it experience.

Who will win is Aspen?? We will find out!

Congrats again to Danny! A shout out to all involved for making it such a great night, especially the farmers from Faith Like A Mustard Seed Farm, Spring House Farm, Buckingham Berkshires, Autumn Olive Farms and Leaping Waters Farm. We appreciate you.


Mandu Danny Lee Wins (2)


For more information on Cochon 555, click here.

OH yeah, not even pictured– there were bourbon and mezcal tastings, cured meat table, tartare bar, and fresh oysters. Really this event had it all!