2019 marks the 11th year of Baconfest, the annual event that unites several of Chicago’s premier restaurants to serve thousands of customers roaming the event floor unique items featuring bacon. The yearly celebration still garners buzz and friendly competition between chefs. It takes place this year on April 5-6 at the UIC Forum.
While the fest is still one of the best-organized food events in the city, organizers are trying something new this year. They’re holding a pop-up and invited the underground ramen sensation who goes by “Ramen_Lord.” Internet-famous chef Michael Satinover will serve bowls of bacon-infused ramen to VIP Baconfest guests on Friday, April 5.
Baconfest co-founder Seth Zurer was hooked after trying Satinover’s ramen. Satinover’s held Akahoshi pop-up dinners since 2017 at places including Paulie Gee’s in Logan Square. Using the Ramen_Lord moniker on Reddit, Satinover’s earned a loyal following. He’s a suburban Oak Park native who works in marketing. He’s also written a bit on ramen at the Takeout. Satinover spent a year studying in Japan. He returned to the states about 10 years ago and began obsessing over various ramen styles after finding American restaurants didn’t serve ramen to his liking.
As Chicagoans and others debate what makes Midwestern cuisine, Satinover considers his Baconfest entry the Midwestern version of ramen. It will be decadent.
“I love pushing the culinary boundaries of the dish,” Satinover said.
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Simplicity. Dashi and chicken shoyu. Super clear chicken broth. Did it on the stovetop, forgot how clear chicken broth can get! About 10-15 ml of fat seems to be the ideal amount for that lens effect I like on the surface. This is just chicken fat, didn’t even aromatize it. Added a little too much kombu to the dashi... lots of oceanic flavor. I’m not used to using Rishiri kombu, the flavor is massive and intense, with loads of umami. The 35% noodles are interesting. Rather firm, and after aging for 1.5 weeks in the fridge, slippery and dense. I think I’d prefer them firmer... guess I’m gonna have to try 34% next time! Slowly getting back into it. Lots of weird stuff in store y’all.
He’ll get the opportunity at Baconfest where he’ll prepare 100 to 200 bowls, depending on attendance, for the VIP crowd on the event’s first day. He’s still working out the exact recipe, but he’s working on a tonkotsu broth with bacon fat and “melty, tender” sous-vide bacon. The Nueske’s applewood-smoked bacon gives the broth a predictable smoky cured base. The bacon replaces the chashu and gives the bowl a caramelized texture, said Satinover, with the broth having a creamy and rich flavor. They’ll use noodles from Sun Noodles, the Japanese company that supplies many of America’s best ramen shops.
The Tribune raved about the ramen last year and Zurer said he was impressed by Satinover’s commitment to perfection in how he tinkers to get it just right. They’ll offer Baconfest attendees more new events this year, but collaborating with Ramen_Lord gives the 2019 event new flair and more incentive to pick up VIP tickets for the $130 price tag.