- FOOD FIGHT! Sunday night’s Cochon 555 event devolved from an epic cooking battle into a physical fight among foodies brawling over local vs. out-of-state pigs. The event began with five local chefs preparing meals from five heritage pig breeds at the Governor Hotel and ended with drunken head-butts, chefs being ejected from a local bar and a pair of food-industry pros being Tasered, pepper-sprayed and arrested by the cops.
Olympic Provisions chef Jason Barwikowski was the big winner in the culinary portion Sunday night, taking home the title of Prince of Porc with his ravioli in broth, pork-belly niblets and tasty banh mi sandwiches, all made from a Red Wattle pig from Iowa’s Koerperich Farm. The biggest losers? Former Alberta Street Oyster House chef Eric Bechard and Cochon 555 founder Brady Lowe. Bechard, chef/co-owner of the lauded new Thistle restaurant in McMinnville, had a fistfight with Lowe outside Magic Garden, an Old Town strip joint, after Bechard shit-talked the fact that an Iowa pig (the winning pig, in fact) was used in the Cochon competition rather than an Oregon-bred oinker.
Earlier in the evening Bechard also head-butted Elk Cove Vineyards’ Craig Hedstrom before being dragged out of the Cochon 555 after-party at Davis Street Tavern by notorious chef and city-suing firefighter Tom Hurley. Hedstrom says Bechard was drunk and aggressive. Bechard says Hedstrom has had a beef with him for years, stemming from a long-ago pickup basketball game, and that he didn’t even know who Lowe was until after he was “attacked” later than evening outside Magic Garden.
According to Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office records, Lowe was arrested by Portland police at 1:56 am for disorderly conduct and interfering with a peace officer. Bechard was arrested at 2:27 am for disorderly conduct, harassment and interfering with a peace officer. Both have been released. A voice message Scoop received from Lowe indicated he spent most of the day at a Portland-area hospital. “I was in the hospital dealing with a leg fracture, which was compliments of the situation last night,” Lowe said, “which was not the greatest of all things.” Says Bechard: “Everybody was drinking and I’m embarrassed about [what happened].... I own a business here and I’m very Oregon-centric, maybe to a fault. I’m not going to withdraw any of my statements. The fact that an Iowa pig won the event was ironic since we were in a room of Oregon farmers.” Read updates to this story at wweek.com.
- WOOT SKLOOT! Producer Alan Ball and Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Films have teamed up to produce a film adaptation of Portland native Rebecca Skloot’s first book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, according to a report last week by Variety. The book is a nonfiction investigation of the life of the poor black woman whose cancer biopsy yielded the first immortal cells—apt material for the creator of True Blood. Skloot wrote on her website, “Can you say, Dream Team??” May we suggest casting Mo’Nique in the role of Henrietta’s long-suffering daughter, Deborah?
- HOT NUMBERS: Apparently the Gray Lady’s love affair with Portland is more than just some May-September fling. Local artist and designer Tsilli Pines—last seen in these pages collecting a Visual Arts Best of 2008 nod from Richard Speer for the wittily stitched/cut bankbook pages of her show The Figures—has a glowing write-up and commissioned artwork about “the topography of money in human consciousness” in this week’s finance-themed New York Times Magazine. Lately we’ve overlooked that the financial topography in Portland is something like a shallow grave.
- WRECKS-N-EFFECT: Local singer-songwriter Leonard Mynx won’t be playing shows for a while. The Portland musician was in a car accident on the Morrison Bridge recently, after a vehicle crossed the center lane and hit his car. “The car ended up on the sidewalk and was totaled,” Mynx writes via email. “Pretty scary.” The collision caused nerve damage in Mynx’s neck that traveled to his left hand, preventing him from playing guitar. Mynx’s passenger, singer-songwriter Audie Darling, also sustained neck injuries. The other driver fled after hitting Mynx’s car. “I’m walking with a cane,” Mynx writes. As for his recovery, Mynx says, “It could be a while.... The doctors aren’t sure.” When we next see him, Mynx will be with a new band—he’s decided to retire his namesake musical endeavor. Details on the new group have not been announced.