The 11th Annual Baconfest Chicago returned on Friday, April 5 and Saturday, April 6, 2019 at the UIC Dorin Forum (725 West Roosevelt). Nearly 4,000 attendees exeperienced a list of new restaurants and returning entrants over the three sessions. Each session offered a menu of bacon dishes from more than 150 chefs total.
As in previous years, Baconfest Chicago supported the Greater Chicago Food Depository with a donation from event proceeds, a raffle on site and a food drive at the event. Over its 11 year history, the event has generated more than $480,000 in financial donations to the area's largest food bank and collected more than 20,000 lbs of donated food from guests. This translates to nearly 1.5 million meals for hungry people in the Chicagoland community.
Ticket holders gained access to a bacon-themed event where chefs handed out bacon snacks. Brands, artisan bacon-makers, and bacontrepreneurs displayed, sampled, and sold a multitude of bacon products over the three sessions. Mixologists and brewers handed out bacon-inspired cocktails, beer and wine to the bacon-loving masses.
New this year, VIP ticket holders were treated to special pop-up experiences. During the Friday VIP hour ticket holders had access to limited-edition sample-size bacon ramen crafted by Mike Satinover aka u/Ramen_Lord on Reddit. Satinover is the mind behind Akahoshi Ramen, the occasional ramen pop-up. Only a few Chicagoans have been able to sample his creations and lucky Friday night guests had the chance to experience his take on bacon ramen, which was exclusive to Baconfest 2019. Lou Bank, the founder of the organization S.A.C.R.E.D, offered Saturday VIP ticket holders mezcals that can’t be purchased in the US from his private stockpile, while he talked about the important work his organization does in Mexico. S.A.C.R.E.D. stands for Saving Agave for Culture, Recreation, Education, and Development. His not-for-profit organization uses heirloom agave spirits to improve the quality of life in the rural Mexican communities where those spirits are made.
The Golden Rasher Awards
Chefs competed in two categories: Most Creative Use of Bacon and Best Front of House Presentation, with winners taking home trophies. Most Creative Use of Bacon comes in two flavors: Judges’ Choice, awarded by a panel of handpicked judges from the Chicago food world and People's' Choice, selected by Baconfest attendees who vote for their favorite by text message.
Best Front of House Presentation: XO Marshmallow – Chef Melissa Humphrey
Best Bacon Dish - People's Choice: Victory Tap – Chef Joseph Farina
Nueske’s Bacon Focaccia – Nueske’s bacon, roasted onions, shaved pecorino focaccia
Most Creative Use of Bacon - Judge’s Choice: Heritage Restaurant and Caviar Bar - Chef Guy Meikle
5-Spice and Sichuan Peppercorn Pastrami Bacon - bacon-fat bao bun, Korean chile sauerkraut, tobiko Thousand Island
Best Front of House Presentation: Rack House Kitchen & Tavern – Chef Bryant Anderson
Best Bacon Dish - People's Choice: Cooking Skills Academy - Chef Miguel Rangel
Promiscuous Pork Belly – 48 hour red braised pork belly
Most Creative Use of Bacon - Judge’s Choice: Davanti Enoteca – Chef James Day
Candied Bacon, Medjool Date & Stone Ground Polenta Spoon Bread - bacon whipped lardo, calabrian chili, honeycomb, radish
Best Front of House Presentation: The Broken Barrel Bar – Chef Bryant Anderson
Best Bacon Dish - People's Choice: McWethy’s Sports Bar – Chef Dan Casey
Bacon Braised Brisket Tacos – bacon salsa, cilantro, chopped onion, chef-made tortillas
Most Creative Use of Bacon - Judge’s Choice: Yolk - Chef Taki Kastanis
K.F.B. (Kentucky Fried Bacon) – panko-crusted bacon with a bourbon glaze and blueberry BBQ sauce.