In 2007, a locksmith was called to a farmhouse outside of Floresville. Mark Escobedo and his wife Kelley loved the property so much, they leased it and founded South Texas Heritage Pork. Despite no prior knowledge of raising hogs, the couple has built a successful business that supplies local farmers markets and restaurants with high-quality pork.

Over the years, the Escobedos have ranched and raised “happy, healthy hogs” on three different properties. With the lease at their current digs expiring, the couple is looking for a long-term ranch on which to take their business operations to the next level.

To help their pork purveyor secure a new home for their free-range pigs, members of the Chef Cooperatives are hosting Save the Swine, a pop-up event on Sunday, May 7, from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Guests will enjoy a lineup of 13 dishes from renowned local chefs, plenty of beer, and live music at Alamo Brewery.

Tickets are $40 and can be purchased here.

Over the span of a decade, the Escobedos fine-tuned their farming skills and business mission to raise heritage hogs at a slow and steady pace in an open environment. It’s a give-and-take between nature’s players: the hogs feed off the open pastures, but in return support the soil and land around them.

Their sustainable practices produced high-quality pork and earned them the respect of local chefs and culinary industry players. These days, South Texas Heritage Pork supplies meat for the Pearl Farmers Market and several restaurants and delivers directly to customers’ homes.

Piglets nurse at South Texas Heritage Pork. Credit: Courtesy / Kelley Escobedo

South Texas is an ideal environment for raising pigs – as the number of wild hogs proves – and the Escobedos’ operations on their new ranch would contribute various environmental services to its surrounding region by preserving habitat native grasses, trees, animals, and the watershed they rely on.

Since January, their sows have given birth to around 150 piglets. Whereas the average U.S. pig goes from birth to slaughter in six months, South Texas Heritage Pork grows its hogs for 24-30 months. “Slow growth is the key to real flavor,” their website states.

“We know that we are growing one of the best tasting, highest quality pigs in the nation. Now we want to take that product to the next level,” Kelley Escobedo said. “We have provided pork to many of [the Chef Cooperatives‘] events [over the past few years]. When they asked me what we could do as an event together, I said, ‘We need a permanent home.’ They immediately said, ‘We are on it!’”

Those unable to attend the event can still contribute to South Texas Heritage Pork’s efforts to buy a permanent property at their GoFundMe page.

“San Antonio is a great city that always comes out to support and have a good time,” said Stephen Paprocki, president of Chef Cooperatives. “All the money raised goes to whatever producer is in need. The chefs don’t get a dime. It’s our way of building a community of connections and great food for the long term. Without amazing producers, there can’t be amazing meals.”

Sows relax at South Texas Heritage Pork ranch. Credit: Courtesy / Kelley Escobedo

Live entertainment will be provided by SATX Music, featuring Judivan Roots and True Indigo, as well DJ Ras of Shashamani Sound and DJ Gabe Garza of Southtown Vinyl and Deep South Collective.

Chefs from all over San Antonio participate in the events, and this time will be no different.

For a preview of Sunday’s offerings, see the full menu below.

  • Chef Stephen Paprocki, Texas Black Gold Garlic: Crispy Texas Drum Throats, Mushroom Escabeche, Black Garlic
  • Chef Jeff White, Boiler House: Hog Trotter Tonkotsu Ramen, Sous-Vide Quail Egg, Spicy Black Garlic Chili Oil
  • Chef Chris Cook, Cook Consulting; Farm to Fork Catering: Slow-Smoked Pork Shoulder, Carolina Gold Rice Puddin’, Vidalia BBQ Rhubarb Pickles
  • Chef James Canter, Guerrilla Gourmet: Smoked Duck & Oyster Gumbo, Texas Jalapeño Sausage, Pimento Cheese Fritter, Cajun Trinity
  • Chef John O’Larnic, H-E-B: Spicy Smoked Bloody Mary Shot with Gulf Oyster Garnish
  • Chef Toby Soto, Humo: Chicharron-Crusted Pollo Nopal with Mexican Truffle Silk
  • Chef Ed Villarreal, Alberico Fine Wine: Braised and Fried Pig Ears, Salsa Quemada, Lemon Aioli, Micro Cilantro
  • Chef John Herdman, Sustenio: Crispy Sous-Vide Pork Belly, Sunchoke “Tater” Tot, White BBQ, Aerated Cream Corn
  • Chef Tatu Herrera, Tatu’s Food Debauchery: Grilled Hen of the Woods on Mascarpone Toast with Sauce Veracruz and Bonito Flakes
  • Chef Christina Everett, Creations Catering: Andouille-Crusted Duck with Sweet and Spicy Pepper Relish
  • Chef Adrian Davila, Adrian Davila BBQ: Grilled Chipotle Garlic Marinated Texas Gulf Shrimp Mini Tacos
  • Chef Michael Grimes, Southern Grit Flavor: Tripas BLT with Tomato Jam, Bacon Aioli, and Arugula
  • Jenn White, Brindles: Salted Caramel, Candied Bacon Praline
  • Food Artisan Mike Miller, Madge’s Food Company: Fermented Michelada and Mockalada Bar using Fermented Vegetables, Chicharrons

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Mitch Hagney

Mitch Hagney is a writer and hydroponic farmer in downtown San Antonio. Hagney is CEO of LocalSprout and president of the Food Policy Council of San Antonio.