“The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.” — Mark Twain, 1897; Bacon, 2017
9 years in and Baconfest Chicago is still going strong! During one session on Friday night, March 31, and two more on Saturday, April 1, Bacon Nation once again converged on the UIC Forum to indulge in the sweet pleasure of eating as many bacon-based culinary delights as possible from an astonishing cross-section of Chicagoland’s best restaurants. It was a glorious event and we make no apologies for our role in reducing America’s bacon reserves.
Approximately 4,000 ticketed guests from across the country, many decked out in their finest bacon-themed threads, enjoyed unlimited food and drink from 150 different restaurants and a host of sponsors. Good times were had by all and, even more importantly, together we contributed $30,000 for the Chicago Greater Food Depository, bringing the lifetime Baconfest Chicago contribution to almost $400,000, which means well over 1,000,000 meals for our fellow Chicagoans.
As is now Baconfest tradition, each of the three sessions started with a Cooking Channel VIP Hour followed by a three-hour General Admission period. At each session, chefs from 50 different restaurants handed out samples of their bacony creations. In most cases, that meant making use of four tons (8,000 pounds!!!) of bacon generously donated by longtime Baconfest Chicago sponsor Nueske’s. Remarkably, there was actually even more bacon than that as several chefs opted to cure their own pork belly.
Baconfest Chicago brings together a cross-section of restaurants unsurpassed at any other food event. From restaurants that have been around for nearly a century to a couple that haven’t officially opened yet; from breakfast specialists to dessert masters; from burger joints to Michelin Star winners; from first-time Baconfest chefs to those who’ve been to every single one; and from restaurants downtown, every side of the city, inner and outer suburbs, and even a few further out than that, we are always blown away at the support Baconfest gets from every facet of Chicago’s culinary community.
And! Bobby Flay was there at Friday Dinner, shooting video for the Today Show!
Baconfest attendees come ready to eat their fill (and sometimes more than that), but they need something to wash it all down with. Back this year was still and sparkling water from longtime sponsor Smeraldina to cleanse palates and help battle the sodium intake. There was also nitro cold brew from Metric Coffee, which provided guests with an added boost of energy, bubbly infusions from Bai and crisp refreshing iced tea from Pure Leaf. And, courtesy of our beverage sponsors, every Baconfest over 21 was able to make excellent use of all seven of their drink tickets if they so desired.
Once again, Baconfest simply would not be possible without our tireless volunteers and staff. Thousands of eager eaters can be a crowd control challenge and create a fair amount of garbage. But with our team keeping aisles clear, garbage thrown away, and recyclables properly sorted, the event went off without a hitch. Also helping out were volunteers and staff from the Food Depository who did a great job collecting donations of non-perishable food and running a great raffle with prizes donated by our sponsors that raised another $7,000+ beyond the $30,000 we raised through ticket sales for this phenomenal organization.
Best Bacon Poem
It has long been a Baconfest Chicago tradition to send out a call for our nation’s greatest wordsmiths to submit poems devoted to our favorite meat. Our illustrious panel of judges was thoroughly impressed with the submissions, but there could only be one winner. This year’s poet laureate of Bacon Nation is Ian Andrews, whose winning poem (as well as the two runners up) can be read here.
The Golden Rashers!
We love how excited our participating chefs get about Baconfest. Every single year, they devote countless hours planning some of the most creative and delicious bacon dishes mankind has ever known. This year was no different. And while it’s true that there were no losers at Baconfest, there could only be a handful of winners who would take home a Golden Rasher, a trophy worth far more than its weight in gold.
At each session, our judges pick a winner for Best Front of House Presentation. This year’s competition proved so fierce that for two of the three sessions, the judges had no choice but to pick two restaurants to split the awards. The other prize, the most prestigious award in the food industry, is for Most Creative Use of Bacon. In each session, a group of judges each nominate a finalist that all of the judges carefully consider and vigorously debate before naming a winner.
Friday Dinner Session Front of House
Italian Village Restaurants
Friday Dinner Session Most Creative Use of Bacon
Winner: Jordan’s Food of Distinction, Lobster Pork Cappuccino
Bang Bang Pie and Biscuits – Bacon Studded Biscuit with Bacon Jam
676 Restaurant and Bar – Bacon Pho
Filini – Bacon Foccaccia Grilled Cheese and Apple Bacon Cream Soda
Mercat a la Planxa – Bacon Consomme
Pinstripes – Goat Chees and Cashew Gelato
Saturday Lunch Session Front of House
Saturday Lunch Most Creative Use of Bacon
Honey Butter Fried Chicken (second year in a row!) – Loaded Mash – with fried chicken chunks and bacon buffalo sauce
Bistro Campagne – Bacon and Rabbit Pate
Bottlefork – Bacon Churro
Cantina Laredo – Bacon Jam Tostadas
Imperial Lamian – Sweet / Savory Bacon Bao
Whirlyball – Chai BBQ Sauce Smoked Pork Belly
Saturday Dinner Session Front of House
Saturday Dinner Most Creative Use of Bacon
Three Floyds Brewpub – Empanada with Confit Bacon & XO Sauce
Farmhouse Chicago – Buttermilk Bacon Piggy Pancake & all the bacon fixin’s
Moxee BBQ & MadHouse Brewery – Three Little Pigs in a Blanket
Son of a Butcher by Whisk – Bourbon Sweet Potato Bisque with / Sweet Potato & Bacon Hash
World Of Whirlpool – Bacon Explosion – grilled cheese bacon sammy and bacon creme brûlée
SHARE YOUR BACONFEST STORIES!
We’ll add more about Baconfest Chicago 2017 on this page soon, but for now we wanted to get this brief recap out and get this year’s winners the recognition they deserve. In the meantime, please take to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to share your recaps of the event. We LOVE reading your stories of the bacon-ocity.
And remember, in a world where so much divides us, bacon has the power to bring us all together:
— Trump Draws (@TrumpDraws) February 7, 2017