Monday, April 16, 2012

Chicago Baconfest Baby!

Ohhhhhh Baconfest Chicago.  This guy says it all.  

Heaven.  Died.  Me.  Went. 

As we waited in line and drooled over the menu Charlie and I spent some quality time reflecting on the joy that was about to enter our lives.  I said it was a "pivotal" point in our relationship, but Charlie thought it would be best if we settled for "meaningful."   He wanted me to understand that Bacon didn't play a critical role in our relationship.  Whatever.

Baconfest was held in the UIC Forum.  They are going to need a bigger place next year because we could barely move.  They sold out every inch of the place with crazy, crazy carnivores.


 Ok, I'm done with the "before" photos.  On with zee food.   I know people are going to want me to rate the dishes, but I just can't.  It's like choosing your favorite child.  I loved them all.  Equally, but differently.

We entered and ran over to the first open table we could find.  

Jordan's Food of Distinction:  Applewood smoked bacon scented South African lobster cappuccino with crispy lardons and spring chive cream.  Chef Jordan Spritz. 

Nacional 27: Plantain and applewood smoked bacon croquetas with a spicy tomato bacon aioli.  Chef Chico Vilchez.

Here is Stephanie Izard.  Top Chef Season Four WINNER.  I love her.  I love everything about her and Top Chef.  She is from Chicago and REPRESENTS.  This was an awful picture but I was getting pushed and shoved and knocked into so I shot the picture and went on my merry way.  We'll revisit her Bacon Soup later.

The next dish was one of my favs.  Asian and delicious.

Sunda:  Braised applewood smoked pork belly with crispy bacon, apple kimchi, rice and spicy miso paste. Chef Jess de Guzman.

Zapatista:  Pork carnitas, jalapeno en escabeche relish, with a cabon banana chip on a corn tortilla. Chef Cesar Reyes.

Witts:  Bacon with white cheddar mac and cheese, spinach and artichokes.  Chef Mike Versluis. 

Leopold:  Braised cherry smoked belly with beluga lentils and white asparagus.  Chef Jeffrey Hedin.

Park Grill:  Chicken thigh and applewood bacon crostini, English peas, sorrel.  Chef Alex Shalev.

Francesca's Forno: Applewood smoked bacon & rapini stromboli with cipollini onion jam. Chef Kevin Ives.

This next dish is from one of my favorite restaurants in Chicago.  They did not disappoint.

Davanti Enoteca:  Pork belly porchetta with artichoke mostarda. Chef John Beatty.

Sixteen:  Tanariva milk chocolate and smoked brown sugar tarts, bacon "crunch", toasted meringue & smoked salt bacon caramels.  Sarah Kosikowski.


Rosebud:  Mini bacon cannoli.  Chef Michael Ponzio.

Rosebud:  Gorgonzola dolce ravioli in bacon brodo. Chef Michael Ponzio. 

Mercadito:  Taco de pollo - adobo marinated grilled chicken, bacon mojo, queso fresco, corn avocado salsa, crispy bacon.  Patricio Sandoval.

Mercat A La Planxa:  Cider braised pork belly pinxos with truffled parsnip and napa cabbage slaw.  Chef Cory Morris.

 Sweet Baby Rays:  Pit smoked barbecue BLT.  Nueske's cherry smoked slab bacon with spicy greens, heirloom tomatoes, and a larded duck egg aioli.  Chef Dylan R. Lipe and Duce Raymond.

694 Wine & Spirits:  The Kick Ass BLT.  Chef Chris Dunstatter.

Sweet Baby Rays:  Porchetta cubano.  Citrus infused pork loin wrapped with a slow smoked Latin cured pork belly; shaved thin and served on a petitie pressed roll with citrus ginger mustard, topped with a house made pickle, onion, and salt pork slaw.  Chef Dylan R. Lipe and Duce Raymond.

And then there were just crispy pieces of bacon.

Thumbs up.

Branch 27:  Cool spring pea soup with applewood bacon straw.  Chef Katherine August.

 Oh you know, just crispy delicious bacon on a stick.

 Cantina Loredo:  Tequila bacon tacos with jicama mango slaw. Chef Angel Blasco.

Gemini Bistro:  Bacon x's 3 - Hand rolled porchetta ravioli, crispy panchetta chip, warm bacon vinaigrette.  Chef Jason Paskewitz.

Glenview House:  Pan seared sea scallops on house made bacon polenta with black truffle aioli and micro fennel shoots.  Chef Grant Slauterbeck.

More bacon.  What is up.

The Bedford:  Bacon beignets, bacon sugar, bacon/walnut/bourbon infused maple caramel.  Chef Mark Steuer.

Wow Bao:  Freshly steamed BBQ pork bao.  Chef Team Wow Bao.

 Butcher & The Burger: Benton's Tennessee Mountain smoked bacon frozen custard, organic dates stuffed with LaPryor Farms Duroc/Hamshire house made bacon sausage, wrapped in Benton's Bacon. Chef Allen Sternweiler.

So this made my night. This is Sarah Grueneberg from Cafe Spiaggia.  This seasons TOP CHEF RUNNER UP!!!!  She was so nice and wonderful and even gave me her personal card.  I was so star struck I didn't even know what to do with myself.  She caught me staring at her with my mouth open and welcomed me up to the front of the line to meet her.  I threw the camera at Charlie and quickly posed.  I loved it.  Don't mind the bacon infused sweat forming on my upper lip.  It was hot, ok?  If you want to know what I said to her it was: "food.  blog.  big fan."  I'm just smooth like that.  

Cafe Spiaggia:  Nueske's wild cherry smoked bacon, Hooks 7 year cheddar gnudi with spring ramps. Chef Sarah Grueneberg and Aaron Diener. 

This was a little cream puff that I was gripping in my left hand when I hugged Sarah for the photo.   

The chefs didn't like to be photographed.

Girl & The Goat:  Bacon Soup.  Chef Stephanie Izard.

Vie:  Braised pork belly with whitefish brandade, spring peas, pickled green garlic, cracklings.  Chef Nathan Sears.


Sable Kitchen & Bar:  Nueske's applewood smoked bacon pretzels with cheddar bacon jam dip.  Chef Heather Terhune.

Quince:  Crispy bacon spring roll - onion, chilis, swiss cheese, potato, poached egg, and bacon aioli.  Chef Andy Motto and Joe Dugolenski.

This is all, my friends.  This was only about a third of the dishes represented.  Charlie and I almost fainted 15 minutes in.  Next year I'm pacing myself and not eating three weeks before.  I'll be back in 2013, Baconfest Chicago.  Until then...stay hungry!


  1. WOW, felt like i was right there, I can smell the bacon now.

  2. You managed to visit a lot more chefs than I did. By the time I got to 694's Kick-Ass BLT (my 7th or 8th stop), I was in food overload.

    2 days later I still can't decide which was my favorite. Though Witt's mac & cheese was in my dreams last night. So it's definitely high on the list.

    1. I know...we had a really hard time picking our favorites. Next year I'm going to study the menu better and make a game plan.

  3. I have no words than "my goodness"!! Everything looks so delish.....I'm so going in 2013......putting it on my bucket list fo sho! Ha!

    1. You must! My last meal request might just be "Baconfest" now :)

  4. all of this delicious food left me really hungry :)

  5. Haha that looks awesome.

  6. Wow that is amazing! Not only is it bacon bacon bacon but amazing dishes by amazing chefs! Maybe one day I'll have to make a trip to Chicago!

    1. You should! Best foodie event I have ever attended!


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