Meet the Princess of Pork. Professional chef Duskie Estes earned that title when she bested her male counterparts last summer at the famous cooking competition called Cochon555 at the Food & Wine festival in Aspen, Colorado.
Duskie is more surprising than simply being the first woman ever to make a winning array of pork dishes using a single pig. A former vegetarian, Duskie is an ethical butcher who owns a bacon company (Black Pig Meat Co.). She’s a rising-star TV personality (Next Iron Chef) who doesn’t own a television.
She’s also the chef-proprietor, with her husband, of two award-winning, Michelin-recommended restaurants in Sonoma Wine County, which she supplies with organic ingredients from her family farm.
She’s a champion of humane treatment of the animals she butchers, cooks and serves in her restaurants, insisting on using the whole animal “snout to tail,” including the cheaper cuts which nevertheless emerge from her kitchen as authentically gourmet.
The daughter of a federal judge and a graduate of Brown University, Duskie is a Renaissance woman: mother, chef, business owner, community activist, champion of organic and sustainable agriculture, a farmer, rancher, and infinitely inventive cook whose dishes like “When Pigs Fly” and “Piggy Pops” earned her the top prize at the nation’s most prestigious pork cook-off.
I could go on: she’s quirky, intense, playful, and goofy. She’s committed, devoted and passionate about food, family and farming. The house wines served in her restaurant (which she makes with her lawyer, an amateur winemaker) found their way onto the wine list at the French Laundry. In addition to growing the organic herbs and produce for her restaurants, Duskie and her husband, John Stewart, raise mangalitsa pigs, babydoll sheep, goats, chickens, heritage turkeys, and rabbits on their farm in west Sonoma County.