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Another Baconfest Chicago has come and gone and let us tell you: BFC 2014 – the sixth annual – was the biggest and best Baconfest we’ve ever seen – and we’ve seen our fair share of pork parties.  Three sessions comprised of over 170 of Chicago’s best restaurants competing for the coveted Golden Rasher award and serving up dishes ranging from crispy Bacon Tacos and warm Bacon Griddle Cakes to Bacon-Laced Risotto and a variety of Bacon-Infused Cocktails, there was a bacon-serenading barbershop quartet, porky costume contests, and even a spot of porcine poetry.   Nueske’s was proud to supply nearly 7,800 pounds of our deeply smoky bacon to the chefs and partners of Baconfest Chicago this year.

One of the Baconfest special features nearest our heart is the Nueske’s Amateur Bacon Cookoff, featuring recipes created by individuals who are not culinary professionals.  Each year, we’ve been impressed with the quantity and quality of recipes entered in the cookoff and the skill and care with which these amateur cooks create their recipes.  The quantity and quality of recipes entered in the 2014 Cookoff was the most impressive that we’ve seen, to date.   The level of creativity and skill surpassed what we expected from any group of non-professional cooks, even from the talented populace of Chicago.

Many amateur cooks entered, but only five earned the right to be the finalists at Baconfest Chicago.  The five finalists in the Nueske’s Amateur Bacon Cookoff were:

Diane Tesmer
Baconized Poutine
The famous french-fried Quebecois dish, laden with squeaky juusto cheese curds…and bacon.

Hipolito Sanchez
Habañero Candied Bacon & Smoked Salmon Ceviche
Expertly-layered flavors: spicy, smoky, savory, and served with fresh lime wedges and thoughtfully-placed garnishes. 

Joe “Goz” Gosselin
Chorizo Pork Belly BLT on Bacon Cheddar Waffles
An amazingly savory and pleasantly porky sandwich, accented with pickled tomatillos to cut and compliment the richness of slow-cooked pork. 

Alexa Hara
Pig Mix
Snack mix toasted in bacon fat.  Need we say more?

Barbara Miller
Bacon & Eggs Maki
A terrific blast of wasabi-glazed bacon in each perfectly-rolled bite…served with incredible attention to detail, as evidenced in the tiny edible pig faces on each plate and also the handy pink pig chopsticks.

Every one of our finalist dishes was wonderfully creative and we enjoyed each bite immensely, plus we saved our pig chopsticks.  The panel of judges spent some time discussing each dishes’ merits – and there were many – before coming to a conclusion and selecting what they deemed to be the best Amateur Bacon Dish… Habañero Candied Bacon & Smoked Salmon Ceviche by HIPOLITO SANCHEZ.  Hipolito gave us outstanding depth of flavor and the most creative plating of the cookoff.  We thank all of the participants – you all rock and we can’t wait to see what you create in 2015!

Bob Nueske, Hipolito Sanchez - winner of the BFC 2014 Nueske's Amateur Bacon Cookoff, & Tanya Nueske

Bob Nueske, Hipolito Sanchez - winner of the BFC 2014 Nueske's Amateur Bacon Cookoff, & Tanya Nueske