[Photo: Huge Galdones ]
Some chefs come to attention through big personalities and appearing on various TV talk shows. Other chefs take a quieter approach and get recognized solely through a traditional route: their food. Such is the case with Jason Vincent, the understated, somewhat under-the-radar exec chef at Nightwood who likely won't be under the radar much longer after being crowned the King of Porc at the Grand Cochon competition at the 30th annual Food & Wine Classic in Aspen on Sunday.
Vincent, who won Cochon 555 in Chicago in April, beat out nine other competitors including major chefs like Iron Chef Marc Forgione and Michelle Bernstein (a Top Chef judge) and two F&W best new chefs: Kelly English (Iris in Memphis) and Naomi Pomeroy (Beast in Portland, Ore.)
Vincent said he was "shocked" when he heard his name called as the winner. "Honestly in Chicago, there was buzz and the judges came over and told me I had their vote," Vincent said. "With this one ? I mean, Naomi Pomeroy and Michelle fuckin Berstein? Holy shit. We didn't expect it."
The chefs were capped at presenting three dishes so Vincent took his three favorites from his winning repertoire in Chicago: a riff on Sunday brunch that included a decadent bacon-butterscotch doughnut served with soft scrambled egg and "hollandoink" sauce and a bloody mary on the bone; a liver chip and a version of cocido, a Spanish-style pork and vegetable stew.
Other than feeling hungover this morning after a celebratory dinner with some of this year's F&W best new chefs and a lot of bourbon, Vincent is truly just incredibly happy to have won Grand Cochon. He said he's always wanted to be considered for best new chef and that this "puts me in a better position to get it."
As for support? Vincent said his phone's text limit was maxed out. "There were close to 150 texts after the win," he said. "It was so nice that there were 150 people who care about me paying attention to this thing hundreds of miles away. It's a nice familial caring thing. It was really special."
· Nightwood's Jason Vincent Crowned Prince of Porc at Cochon 555 Chicago [~EChi~]