More than 4,500 people sampled the 8,000 pounds of baconated dishes over the weekend at the seventh annual Baconfest. Despite pre-event buzz that the bacon bubble had burst, attendance was about the same as last year's event. It was was also a sell out for Friday's dinner session and Saturday's lunch and dinner sessions at the UIC Forum.
This year, 170 restaurants participated, showcasing sweet and savory dishes, as well as cocktails with either bacon as a garnish or used as an infusion. The most creative use of bacon for each session earns Baconfest's Golden Rasher, recognizing a restaurant's contribution to the porcine world. Restaurants brought their "A" games yet again. For example, despite winning winning a Golden Rasher last year, Michael Jordan's Steakhouse brought in an entirely new dish — a bacon gordita — to win over crowds. Homemade bacon candy bars, potato chips topped with pulled pork and bacon, as well as bacon-wrapped sausages all led to higher cholesterol levels.
The event's co-founders reflected on Baconfest's growth, as the inaugural fest drew 75 people in 2009. Though embracing the gluttony, the event has adopted the Greater Chicago Found Depository as a beneficiary, and this year donated $75,000 to the charity, according to festival spokesmen.
Baconfest also continued its legacy as a fashion show of sorts, with the crowd decked out in socks decorated with pigs, bacon costumes and even capes. Check out the award winners below, and the photos from the event, which in reality is the kick off the Chicago's festival season.
Bob Nueske Commitment to Bacon:
Chef Troy Graves, Chef Pat Sheerin, Chef Nathan Sears, Signature Room, David Burke's Primehouse & Vie
Friday DinnerGolden Rasher: Chef Pat Sheerin of Trenchermen with Bacon Fried Rice
Runners Up: Ara-On, Big Jones, Fork, Tanta, Jesus Delgado: Chicharron Glazed Bocado, Woodhaven, Red DoorBest Front of House Presentation: Bad Apple
Saturday Lunch: Golden Rasher: Slurping Turtle chef/owner Takashi Yagihashi with Bacon Chiyawanmush
Runners Up: David Burke's Primehouse, Firefly Grill, Flo & Santos, Stout Chicago
Best Front of House Presentation: Honey Butter Fried Chicken
Saturday DinnerGolden Rasher: Vie Restaurant with Bacon Slim Jim & Potato Bacon Soup
Runners Up: E+O Food and Drink, Bang Bang Pie, Osteria Langhe, Freestyle Food and Drink
Best Front of House Presentation: Knife & Tine and Osteria Langhe