Rumours of an impending bacon shortage have been greatly exaggerated. At least I hope so! This would be terribly tragic, particularly because we are days away from Baconfest 2012: The Next Level. Bacon fest is the brainchild of Ace Burpee of Virgin Radio and is hosted by Ace, Ben Kramer of Diversity Foods and myself with Bistro 7 ¼.
I remember the day Baconfest was conceived like it was only yesterday. It was a snowy afternoon in winter, or maybe a moonlit night in spring, but Ace Burpee came to me and asked, “Tell me if this is not a good idea: Baconfest.” I answered that I thought it was an excellent idea. I asked Ace for more details, but he had none. All he knew was that he wanted to throw a bacon festival as a fundraiser for the United Way. Ace had challenged himself to raise $100,000 for this charity and Baconfest was going to help get him there. After much brainstorming with Ben Kramer, Amber and my wife, Danielle, we came up with what became the highly successful Baconfest. We had a lot of our friends in the restaurant business participate. Half Pints brewery got involved. We even had bacon desserts and chocolates. Everyone who attended left with a warm glow and glistening skin.
Even before the first baconfest was over, people were asking if there was going to be another. This is where things started to unravel. Two distinct factions quickly developed. One camp wanted to go bigger. We would host it at the convention center, sell 400 or even 600 tickets. Others believed that we should keep it small and exclusive. Mr. Burpee quickly quashed all debate by stating that we would stick to the location and the intimate atmosphere. But in the same breath, he challenged us to take it to the next level. And so was born Baconfest 2012: The Next Level.
For the chefs participating, Ace Burpee’s challenge was terrifying. We felt we had gone all out for the first festival, what could we possibly do to top that? Each chef reacted in a different way. When I asked Scott Bagshaw of Deseo what he was doing, he panicked, let out a couple f-sharps, shrugged and told me he would have to consult with his cooks. Mandel at Deer and Almond told me he was doing bacon and eggs. “Some crazy deconstructed molecular gastronomy bacon and eggs?” I asked. No, just bacon and eggs. I asked Adam and Carolina at Segovia and they told me they had no idea what they were doing. “Something with bacon?” I joked
“Probably”, they answered. The pressure to top last year is so great, all the chefs I know are cracking under its weight. This could mean one of two things will happen. Either Baconfest 2012: The Next Level will be a complete fiasco or it will be a magnificent extravaganza of bacon-y goodness. My experience with chefs is that they always manage to pull it together in the final moments. We tend to all be adrenaline junkies and are driven by the stress and the deadlines. So with that in mind, I feel we can expect great things at this years Baconfest. I feel it will be a journey into the bacon-fuelled madness of the chef’s mind. It will be like Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, except with bacon. It will be through the looking glass, where the glass is smeared with bacon grease.
In the meantime, My favourite mixologist, Danielle, is fiendishly fat -washing bourbon and smoking apples for her bacon cocktails. Our crack team team of sommeliers are slurping wines just trying to find the perfect pairings to bacon’s sweet smokey goodness. And the team over at half-pints are frantically eating bacon cheeseburgers trying to decide which beers to bring.
Ben Kramer, the smart one in our band of Bad News Bears Chefs, has this one all figured out. Ben is going to do something wildly different this year. He is definitelly going to bring bacon to the Next Level. And in true Diversity fashion he will focus on sustainablilty. He will provide us with answer to the problem of a global bacon shortage. Ben Kramer and his crew are making bacon out of everything but pig. They are doing bacon made with goat, veal, texas longhorn, duck etc.
Baconfest 2012: The Next Level runs from 7 to 10 pm on Thursday, November 22 at the new Richardson Science Building in the Atrium. Tickets are $100 and proceeds go to the United Way. Tenderloin meats is sponsoring a draw for way too much bacon. For more details you can go to the 103 website at winnipeg.virginradio.ca and go to the events page.
please note: not everything in the article is true or accurate, the subjects might have been either inadvertently or deliberately misquoted for dramatic effect. Events portrayed might not have actually happened.
Alexander Svenne is the food writer for Spectator Tribune and chef at Bistro 7 1/4. Follow him at @ChefAlex
For more follow @SpectatorTrib