I apologize for being so late on this post. What a week I have had as a mom. Does anyone have any advice on science projects? I am digressing. Okay, back to Baconfest.
Imagine this… 56 top chefs creating and serving up their own unique bacon dishes. Baconfest Chicago sold out in minutes. Getting voted into Nueske’s Applewood Smoked Meats Amateur Cook Off as a finalist was my way of getting into this event of 1600 people strong on April 9 at 12:30. The VIP people had even paid extra to get to go in an hour early to beat the crowds to the chefs tables. It is a charity event that raised $25,000 for the Greater Chicago Food Depository. Well done!
When my niece, Jenna, and I arrived at 11:45 there was already a long line out front. We checked into the front saying I was one of the six contestants for the cookoff. We were ushered immediately into the green room in the back. Loved by passing that huge line. We could leave our belongings and food in the green room and start out early in the exhibit hall to sample all the bacon goodies.
But before I went to any table, I had to find Chef Brian Polcyn at Forest Grill restaurant (Birmingham, MI) table. This is the MAN. He was written about in the Soul of a Chef, by Micheal Ruhlman. He co-authored Charcuterie with Micheal Ruhlman. He was featured on No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain while he was teaching at School Craft Culinary School in Livonia, MI. But right now, he is the rock star of the food blogging sensation Charcutepalooza! It was just a thrill.
Of course, Chef Brian made a homemade sausage with a potato salad. I wish my pictures had turned out. Super delish! He seems to be quite stunned about the Charcutepalooza phenomenon. I never even asked about how he got to this Chicago event. We did find out we have some things in common, though. First, he worked for my grandfather at his West Bloomfield, MI restaurant. I loved that! His mentor is Chef Milos who happens to be a master chef and has hunted on my family farm for years. He taught my brother how to properly butcher deer and other game. This Czech chef deserves his own post… someday soon.
We decided to go try some other foods before getting back to the prep my meatloaf for the judges. I am sorry that my pictures did not turn out well, but there was some seriously good food. Some of my favorites were bacon & foie gras moon pie by Paul Frehribach of Big Jones and Banh Mi from Chris Pandel the Bristol. Stephanie Izard from Girl & the Goat made a soup. I have to admit that I was very underwhelmed by it. My first reaction was… a soup, really? Then I thought, I think that she won a lot on Top Chef with soups. Hey, she was one of the winners of the Golden Rashers( Award for best in show), so what do I know? The one that I didn’t get to try was Naha’s pork belly. Everyone was talking about it. David Burke’s Primehouse gave out bacon caramels wrapped up like a lollipop. This was great because I put it in my purse and ate it the next day. It was definitely a sport eating event.
Now back to the green room to prep my tasting plates for the judges. We were told to bring 20 servings and that Padma from Top Chef could be one of our judges. Well, we really only needed to 3 plates for judging and we are going to be judged by a Nueske’s Bacon executive, one of the Baconfest organizers and a new host of a new Foodnetwork show called, Crave. His name is Troy. It does seem like baconfest and my bacon country meatloaf will be appearing on the opening show of Crave on June 12! When I know more, I will share it
So I lost to Tyler Hall‘s Lavender Vanilla Caramel Candied Bacon Cheesecake. I did get a chance to taste it and it was fabulous. Jenna said that she heard them discussing it being between mine and the cheesecake. So I am going with it. LOL.
I went in feeling good and confident and left feeling the same way. I had a great time. Food is so subjective. No worries about losing. The only moment I had of being pensive is when I took a plate of my meatloaf over to Brian Polcyn to try… he was very kind, saying he liked it and it reminded him of a terrine. Phew!
I am so grateful that everyone voted to help me get into the event as a finalist. I had such a great time. Looks like my food is going to make it to the food network. I met lots of great people. Tasted great food, but most of all had a fabulous day with my niece. Jenna and her bo(He’s a chef) are the next generation of foodies and it was introducing me to new people and telling me about all the people that she knew in the industry. It was really fun to see.
It was just a great time, everyone.
Pull up a chair, Elizabeth