I was honored to attend an event in Milwaukee, Wisconsin last night known as SloPig. In a nutshell, it is an event and competition celebrating amazing food and great punch. According to their website “SloPig is designed to be a giant cocktail party with lots of nibbling, lots of roaming around and plenty of punch sampling. The evening involves three primary components, a chef competition, a bartender competition and the Tasting Hall.” It was spot on, and truly an amazing time.
The event was held at the Intercontinental Hotel in Milwaukee and was located on two floors of the hotel. I immediately climbed the stairs to the second floor only to be introduced by the rectangular shaped room where amazing chefs and mixologists were eagerly waiting to serve. For some reason I walked to the back of the room to be introduced to some pretty awesome culinary delights from chef Nelly Buleje of Hilton catering. He served me something on a spoon that was just out of this world. A one bite pork and mushroom concoction that just blew me away. I thought if this event was going to be like this (and it was), then I just entered culinary heaven.
As I wondered through the hall, I quickly saw that chef David Swanson from Braise was hanging around in his corner as was chef Tory Miller from L’Etoile in Madison. It was that feeling of being a kid in a candy store for me. What I really enjoyed was being able to talk not only to chef Swanson and Miller, but also to chef Dan Van Rite from Hinterland and chef Justin Aprahamian from Sanford. Every chef was completely accessible, and each one of them were truly genuine and super friendly.
As I continued to eat their array of offerings, and blown away from their bite-sized presentations and flavors, I had to wash it all down with the punch offerings around the floors. Ice sculptured pigs were extracting punch concoctions from bartenders from such great establishments such as L’Etoile, The Aviary, Distil, Merchant, The Hotel Foster, and Burnhearts. All punches were concocted using some killer spirits, and I must say, all were amazing. Most of them had some great fruits, and amazing bitters, that you could probably get away with sipping on those punches for breakfast.
But remember, this was a competition, and I had to keep eating and drinking. Smelling each plate, and tasting every bite. As I went around looking for the voting box, I encountered a butchering demonstration from Scott Buer from Bolzano Artisan Meats.
As I continued to walk through the event, I noticed that Sassy Cow Creamery was also there. They offered up a create your own ice cream sundae, with, get this, toppings such as a maple bacon caramel, chicharrones, and ham marshmallows! As I am not big on desserts, I continued walking to the next table, only to encounter some really nice folks from Hometown Sausage Kitchen.
As I casted my vote, I thought it was time to call it quits. As tough as it was to leave the event, I decided to move along. As I was walking out, low and behold my friendly greeting with Kyle Cherek from Wisconsin Foodie.
The winners ended up being:
Best Chef: Justin Aprahamian
Best Punch: The Aviary
If this event happens again, and I hope it will, it is a must for any Wisconsin foodie. More information can be found online at Slopig.com