Greetings Bacon Nation:

We hope by now you’ve heard of the expanded 2-day culinary extravaganza to be held on April 25th & 26th at the UIC Forum.  Over 160 chefs from Chicago’s unbelievable restaurant scene are getting together to to showcase their bacon-prowess in support of our long-time charity partner:   The Greater Chicago Food Depository.

As of this writing, both Lunch and Dinner Sessions for Saturday 4/26 are SOLD OUT.  There are still some tickets available for the Dinner Session on Friday 4/25 – but they are evaporating as I type.  (Visit our Eventbrite ticketing page:  to get yours!)

Meanwhile, over the next seven weeks, we will be unveiling a series of contests to win some free tickets:  The first in this series is The Nueske’s Amateur Bacon Cook-off.  

For the sixth consecutive year, we’d like to welcome a MAJOR sponsor aboard:  Nueske’s Applewood Smoked Meats.
  Their bacon is great.  We love them.  Visit their website, order on-line and buy Nueske’s Applewood Smoked Meats at any of the fine retail locations in Chicagoland listed below.  They donate THOUSANDS of pounds of bacon to our exhibiting chefs every year, and quite frankly, make Baconfest Chicago even possible.  We can never say enough great things about Nueske’s, both the people and the Bacon!   The Nueske’s Amateur Cook-off is inspired by their belief that the greatest bacon delights often come from the Everyman and so we are proud to announce…..


Interested competitors should write [email protected] with the following info:

  • Your name.
  • Contact e-mail/phone number.
  • A description of the dish you’d like to present, including an ingredient list.  YOU MUST SUBMIT A PHOTO of said bacon dish.
  • A brief outline or description of how to prepare your dish

We at Baconfest Chicago will select a set of semi-finalists and publish the entries for our social media followers to vote for their favorite dishes.  The top 5 vote getters will be the 5 Finalists – plain and simple.

Those 5 Finalists will be required to do the following:

  • Attend Baconfest on Friday April 25th as guests of Nueske’s and Baconfest Chicago.  (You will be given a “contestant’s pass” AND two free tickets to bring along some friends).
  • Arrive at 6:30pm for contestant orientation and you will be escorted to a private backstage room for prep.
  • Bring 5 or more tasting portions of your dish to be served to a panel of selected judges.
  • Be present for the Golden Rashers Awards ceremony circa 8:30pm when the winner of the Nueske’s Bacon Amateur Cook-off will be announced and presented with a Golden-Rasher Trophy (plus some prizes from Nueske’s t.b.a. – but I bet Bacon will be involved.)
  • NOTE New for 2014:  Should you be selected as a finalist, Nueske’s will provide you with bacon a week PRIOR to the event to use in your dish (if you want it.)

Parameters of your dish:

Part of winning this challenge involves making the most out of limited resources.  You are welcome to bring any equipment you may need with you (please run large, plug-in, or fuel powered devices past us first).  In the prep area you will NOT be given facilities to cook your dish on site from scratch.  We will have a microwave on site for heating, and you will be given time to set presentation prior to serving.  Take this into account when planning your recipe!  We will provide plates/flatware for serving.  Other than that, let your imaginations run wild.  Beverage pairings are acceptable.  And in case this needs clarification:  Your dish must showcase bacon.  No Canadian Bacon and NO Turkey Bacon allowed.  And don’t even mention tofacon.

Ok Bacon Nation, let’s hear some recipes!  For a list and dish descriptions of the 2013 Finalists see:  2013 Nueske’s Amateur Cook-off

DEADLINE:  Applications must be received via e-mail by Monday March 10th at noon CST.  e-mail: [email protected]

On the definition of “Amateur”:  You can NOT have been employed as a professional chef since the New York Islanders last won the Stanley Cup.  I’m not gonna run FBI checks or anything – I trust your integrity Bacon Nation :-)


Andre Vonbaconvitch

Some Chicagoland stores that you can find Nueske’s Applewood Smoked Meats at are:

Arista Foods
Big Apple Finer Foods
Binny’s Marketplaces
Gene’s Sausage Shop @ Deli Meyer
Lincoln Park Co-op
Treasure Island
Zaleski & Horvath Market
Sunset Foods
Blue Goose Supermarket – St. Charles
Brookhaven Marketplace – Burr Ridge & Mokena
Marion Street Market – Oak Park
Garden Fresh Food Market – Naperville