Baconfest Chicago 2014 happened.  And you know what?  It was awesome. We’ll no doubt be adding more detail to our recap as time goes by, but we wanted to make sure we shared the broad outlines as quickly as possible.

Photo Credit – Peter Tsai

We had three Cooking Channel VIP Hours, three General Admission sessions – all sold out; it was our biggest event ever. There were more than 160 restaurants represented, almost 4,500 guests, more than 7,800 lbs of bacon from Nueske’s Applewood Smoked Meats, a river of beer from seven different breweries, a vast reservoir of booze from more than 13 spirit brands, bottles and bottles of Italian water and Italian wine, bacon-flavored pretzels by the pallet, more compostable plates, forks, cups and napkins than you can shake a stick at, an urgent care sponsor, and much much more.

An all-star lineup of bartenders, chefs and bacon-professionals, as well as our 120 red-shirted volunteer staff, all joined together in 23,000 square feet of space to celebrate bacon and support the Greater Chicago Food Depository.  Thanks to all our volunteers and Sponsors for making Baconfest Chicago 2014 a huge success.

We’re waiting on the final tally from the GCFD of food donated, raffle tickets sold and monetary donations from our April Bacon Month Charity Dine-around, but we can say with authority that Baconfest donated $75,000.00 out of event proceeds to the GCFD, the area’s largest food bank.  To date, our event has donated in excess of $200,000 to help the GCFD distribute meals to hungry Chicagoans. We’re very grateful for the work they do, and immensely grateful to our restaurants, partners, and guests for making this donation possible.

We gave out prizes!  The Golden Rasher awards are the Oscars™ of the Bacon World, celebrating special achievement in the Bacon Arts.  Here’s a breakdown of awards / categories:

Nueske’s Applewood Meats Amateur Bacon Cookoff

Five finalists vied for top amateur honors in the Nueske’s cook off.  A panel of judges tasted all five and selected Hipolito Sanchez’s Habanero Candied Bacon Smoked Salmon Ceviche to receive the prize.

Photo Credit: Anne Petersen

Thank you to all of our contestants and to the other four finalists: Diane Tesmer (Baconized Poutine), Joe “Goz” Gosselin (Chorizo Pork Belly BLT on a Cheddar Waffle), Alexa Hara (Pig Mix) and Barbara Miller (Bacon & Eggs Maki).

Best Bacon Poem

Out of more than thirty entries, our panel of literary judges, selected Angela Allan’s “Bringin’ The Bacon Home” to receive the Golden Rasher for Best Bacon Poem.  She read her masterwork aloud to an adoring, finger-snapping crowd.  Photos to come!

Best Bacon Cocktail

Annette Radziszewski received a Golden Rasher for her cocktail creation: The Hamlette: a refreshing rum-based grapefruit drink garnished with candied bacon and chipotle salt.

Best Front of House Presentation

At each shift, a handful of design-oriented judges wandered the room and assessed the physical presentation of each restaurants booth.  Here are the winners for each shift of the Godlen Rasher for Best Front of House Presentation

Friday Dinner: Mity Nice Grill

Photo: Anne Petersen

Saturday Lunch: Benny’s Chop House

Benny’s (Photo: Anne Petersen)

Saturday Dinner: TIE! Bang Bang Pie Shop and Francesca’s Restaurants

Bang Bang Pie Shop (Photo: Ben Collins Sussman)

Francesca’s (photo: Anne Petersen)


Most Creative Use of Bacon


Friday Dinner

Winner: Michael Jordan’s Steakhouse, James O’Donnell
Caramelized Bacon with Clams Casino Broth – Calabrian chiles and bacon fat bread crumbs 

Photo - Anne Petersen
Photo: Anne Petersen

Finalists:
The Radler, Nathan Sears
Bacon Forest Cake – bacon chocolate sponge cake, bacon cherry jam, chocolate mousse, bacon syrup 
Vincent, Adam Grandt
Crispy Pork Belly – tomato bacon jam, parmesan frisee, bacon vinaigrette on a Yorkshire pudding 
Bottlefork, Kevin Hickey
Ground Bacon Burger – vermilion blue cheese, special sauce, shoestring potatoes served with a bacon daiquiri
Osteria Via Stato, David DiGregorio
Nueske’s Black Pepper Bacon Risotto – with Raschera cheese and leeks 
Bristol / Balena, Chris Pandel
Bacon Cereal – with maple cereal milk   

Saturday Lunch

Winner: Lillie’s Q, Charlie McKenna
Bacon Float

Finalists:
Bacaro, Thad Morrow
Bacon S’more – smoky graham cracker, bone marrow fudge, chocolate bacon, savory bacon mousse, bacon sea salt 
Big Jones, Paul Fehribach
Rutabaga Bisque – with candy apples, pumpernickel and bacon croutons 
Chicago Q, Lee Ann Whippen
Pig Powder Dry Rubbed Candied Bacon – brined bacon rubbed with our house-made Pig Powder dry rub and smoked over apple and cherry wood: candied bacon with a kick! 
Paddy Long’s (Kaiser Tiger opening soon),  Patrick Berger & Chris Latchford
Beer and Bacon Sausage – hickory smoked bacon, pork, spices and Lagunitas IPA stuffed in a natural hog casing, wrapped in Nueske’s bacon and pan fried; served with pickled onion and house-made beer mustard 

Saturday Dinner

Winner: Farmhouse,  Kristine Antonian and Eric Mansavage
Pigs in Mud” – chocolate bacon custard, crispy bacon soil, gummy pigs 

Finalists:
Zapatista, Alberto Mendez
Cerdito a la Fogata (Bonfire Pork) – applewood smoked bacon, caramelized plantains, spiced Tequila coconut sauce and bacon glass 
Bakin’ & Eggs, Bob & Gina Hartwig
Triple Cheese and Jalapeño Bacon Grits, bacon cheddar biscuit.
Luxbar, Shaun L. Connolly
Smoked Bacon “Mortadella” and Picalilli
Red Door, Troy Graves
Bulgogi Glazed Pork Meatballs – bacon-kimchi broth and spring pickles 

We’ll post links to our official event photos as soon as they’re ready.

In the meantime, take to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to share your recaps of the event.  We LOVE reading your stories of the bacon-city.