Greetings Bacon Nation,

Baconfest Chicago 2013 happened this Saturday April 20th. It blew our minds.  Below is a recap and a break down of stats/awards/finalists.

We hosted c. 3,000 guests and 128 restaurants, 12 alcohol sponsors and 13 experience partners over two sessions (Lunch and Dinner).  Nueske’s Applewood Smoked Meats donated more than 5,700 lbs of bacon to participating restaurants.  You can see the menu, and find out where in the city these dishes are being served – HERE.

Our guests bought $4,300 worth of raffle tickets and donated over 2,500lbs of food for our charity partner The Greater Chicago Food Depository.  Our matching sponsor Bacon Lovers Deli Meats from Eckrich matched guest donations pound for pound, contributing another 2,500lbs for the food drive. Baconfest handed over a 5-foot long check for $50,000 to the Greater Chicago Food Depository.

All told, Baconfest Chicago 2013 is responsible for getting over 260,000 meals to those in need in Chicagoland. Bravo to you, Nation. Slow emphatic claps.  Many thanks to all of our guest chefs and sponsors who came together to celebrate Bacon for the Greater Good!

We presented 7 Golden Rasher Awards this year. For the food, we had one main award per shift – Most Creative Use of Bacon. NOTE:  Rather than try to come up with a “best” dish from among 60+ different unique options (not possible), we asked our judges to select the dish that blew their minds with its out-of-the-box approach to the use of bacon in a delicious context.  We also gave awards at each shift for the Best Front of House Table Presentation.

(We will add more photos as they become available.)

Lunch Session Awards 

Lunch – Best Front of House
Benny’s ChophouseChef Aaron Lindgren (below)


Lunch – Most Creative Use of Bacon (Winner):
Lockwood at the Palmer House  – Chef Joseph Rose – Slow poached egg with bacon ragout, bacon dashi, nori (below)


Lunch – Most Creative Use of Bacon (Finalists):

  • Browntrout – Chef Sean Sanders: Bacon, sunchoke and ramp risotto
  • Barn & Company – Chef Gary Wiviott:  Bacon Bacon Bacon Baby Back Bones – Bacon fat slather, bacon-infused dry rub, bacon fat mop, bacon-wrapped hickory-smoked ribs with bacon guajillo BBQ sauce
  • Untitled – Chef Joseph Heppe:  The “Love Me Tender” – Pork belly panino with smoked banana, truffle caramel, and cashew butter
  • One North – Chef Will Palguayan:  Pork Belly Adobo


Dinner Session Awards

Dinner – Best Front of House

Fresco 21 – Chef Cameron Grant:  they had a Chicago skyline made of pork products (below)

and bacon roses:

Dinner – Most Creative Use of Bacon (Winner):
Three Aces – Chef Matt Troost (***for the 2nd year in a row.  AMAZING): The “Wake n’Bacon” – bacon scrapple with bacon sriracha, bacon-salt cured egg yolks, and a bacon – Malort Julius (below)

Dinner – Most Creative Use of Bacon (Finalists):

  • CRU Kitchen & Bar – Chef Alex Shalev:  Bacon bread pudding with house-made kimchi and bacon caramel
  • Saigon Sisters – Chef Matt Riordan:  “Black Pearl” Bacon Nem Nuong – Bacon fish meatballs, squid ink tapioca, nuoc cham dressing, cucumber, chili oil, Viet herbs
  • Vera – Chef Mark Mendez:  Bacon banana rice pudding with Marcona almonds and Nutella
  • Bridgehouse Tavern – Chef Mark Hemmer:  Peanut butter and Nueske’s bacon bread pudding, wrapped in bacon with bacon and bourbon caramel, bacon sugar and fried rinds

Other 2013 Golden Rashers

Nueske’s Amateur Cookoff – ( –

Winner: Popped Pig – Alexa Hara

Best Poem about Bacon ( –

Winner: Steve Nordin for “Winter vs. Bacon”

Best Bacon Cocktail:

Winner: Brian Polak for his “Tennessee Sippin’ Pig” made with bacon infused Jack Daniels, a bacon “straw”, and candied pork belly.


Chefs, sponsors, partners, volunteers, guests – we salute you!  Your love of bacon is an inspiration and we couldn’t be happier that you were there.