My short bio: In 2009, my partners and I threw the first Baconfest Chicago - 10 chefs, 10 beers and 75 guests. Turns out people like bacon. We had our sixth event last year - 165 restaurants, 4,500 ticketed guests and almost 8,000 lbs of Nueske's applewood smoked meats. Some of the best restaurants in Chicago come to our event to serve bacon treats to our guests. Part of our goal is to raise money for the Greater Chicago Food Depository - last year alone, we donated $75,000 from the proceeds of the event.

Here's a recap: Here's the menu: Here's our manifesto:

Baconfest Chicago 2015 is coming on April 17 and 18. VIP Tickets are available now:

My Proof: @BaconfestChi:

EDIT: Thanks for all the great questions. Hope to see you all at Baconfest next April. I'll check back in a little later to pick up any stragglers but I'm headed out for now.

Comments: 206 • Responses: 76  • Date: 

rickwinston18 karma

What is your favorite city in Michigan?

baconfestchi25 karma


rickwinston17 karma

Thoughts on Turkey Bacon?

baconfestchi72 karma

Meh. Not bacon.

hahalolhahalolhaha10 karma

Still on that bacon thing, huh?

baconfestchi0 karma

Yup! I take it you're not?

GHarriott7 karma


baconfestchi18 karma

Each occasion calls for its own bacon. We have a certain fondness for Nueske's Applewood Smoked bacon, not just because they send tons (literal tons) to our event, but because it's super delicious. But I also like slab bacon form a local Chicago smokehouse called Georges which is perfect for lardons. Dreymiller and Kray makes an amazing bacon that they smoke over wood from Goose Island Bourbon County barrels.

GHarriott1 karma


golfrinserepeat2 karma

People literally try to buy all the Goose Island Bourbon County stouts from wherever they are at, they are amazing. Bacon smoked from their barrels? Holy. Shit!

GHarriott1 karma

I must try this.

baconfestchi1 karma

I am embarrassed but I think I was wrong about the goose island dreymiller bacon. looking at their site i see that they brine a bacon in goose island matilda and then smoke it over applewood. it is delicious but maybe not the beerbacongasm i had thought it was. Anyway, give it a try!

Apologies for the error.

V0oD0oMan5 karma

I've been to Baconfest Chicago the last two years and without a doubt, it is the best $100 I spend every year. I've looked at other festivals, but they always offer less stuff for the same money, AND I know half(?) the profits to the real Baconfest go to charity, so I can feel good and full at the same time. Mostly, I want to thank you for putting on such an awesome event. I suppose my questions would be:

  1. What shift is the best one to go to this year? I've done an evening and an afternoon shift, and while it's nice to be able to do it early, I feel like there's better food for dinner shifts.

  2. What's one restaurant that hasn't participated yet that you're excited for this year? What's your dream choice of a restaurant to join in?

  3. Have you ever had Epic Deli? It's in the far NW burbs and while they aren't only about bacon, I feel like they embody a similar love of food.

baconfestchi2 karma

Wow! You're welcome and thank you for the glowing endorsement. Really makes me feel great to hear such high praise!

To answer your questions:

  1. I don't know which restaurants will be at which shift yet. We try to balance out the shifts so there are some big names at each and some sleepers that we'd love to see get more attention. I haven't noticed dinner shifts having better food, though I usually enjoy the Sat Dinner best, because I get a few drinks in me and can relax and chat.

  2. We haven't released the roster yet, but one new one is The Winchester which I'm super excited about- they just opened in the last year. I'd love to get some out of town chefs in - somebody like a Chris Cosentino or Sean Brock.

  3. Never heard of it, but now I'll check it out! Thanks for the lead and see you in April!

computerbob4 karma

Can you please come to Florida and teach our people how to do this? They tried to do a Bacon Festival this year and it was supposed to be 2 days. 4 hours into the first day they ran out of bacon and were telling people to go home... AFTER charging them to park and letting them walk up to the gate.

gannon21453 karma

OP, I think it's time for "BaconAmerica" and then soon, "BACONWORLDWIDE"

baconfestchi2 karma

First, we take Chicago. Then, the world.

baconfestchi1 karma

That sucks. We focus heavily on making sure that there's plenty to eat. Leftovers get delivered to local shelters after the event.

rickwinston4 karma

What is your favorite bacon related scene in Breaking Bad?

argathonus3 karma

What's your beer of choice?

baconfestchi7 karma

We like lots of beers - I am fond of Goose Island 312 Pale, Lagunitas Sumpin Sumpin, anything from Greenbush. Yes they sponsor the festival. Yes they are delicious.

Ever had bacon beer? There's a smoked beer they have at the Hopleaf in Chicago that has a pleasant bacon/salami edge.

KipperTheCat3 karma

Have you made it over the border to IN to grab some Three Floyds yet? Yummm

mstruelo1 karma

3 Floyd's is the best!

baconfestchi2 karma

Love Three Floyds. They came two years ago as a restaurant. Last year, our event was the same day as Dark Lord Day. But I hope they'll be able to make it back this year.

Fireman_X3 karma


As someone who has frequented the Des Moines baconfest (and been friends with several of the past bacon queens) what sets Chicago apart from other baconfests?

I only ask because Iowa is all about corn and hogs. What connection to bacon does Chicago have?

baconfestchi3 karma

Chicago BY CARL SANDBURG Hog Butcher for the World, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with Railroads and the Nation's Freight Handler; Stormy, husky, brawling, City of the Big Shoulders:

They tell me you are wicked and I believe them, for I have seen your painted women under the gas lamps luring the farm boys. And they tell me you are crooked and I answer: Yes, it is true I have seen the gunman kill and go free to kill again. And they tell me you are brutal and my reply is: On the faces of women and children I have seen the marks of wanton hunger. And having answered so I turn once more to those who sneer at this my city, and I give them back the sneer and say to them: Come and show me another city with lifted head singing so proud to be alive and coarse and strong and cunning. Flinging magnetic curses amid the toil of piling job on job, here is a tall bold slugger set vivid against the little soft cities; Fierce as a dog with tongue lapping for action, cunning as a savage pitted against the wilderness, Bareheaded, Shoveling, Wrecking, Planning, Building, breaking, rebuilding, Under the smoke, dust all over his mouth, laughing with white teeth, Under the terrible burden of destiny laughing as a young man laughs, Laughing even as an ignorant fighter laughs who has never lost a battle, Bragging and laughing that under his wrist is the pulse, and under his ribs the heart of the people, Laughing! Laughing the stormy, husky, brawling laughter of Youth, half-naked, sweating, proud to be Hog Butcher, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with Railroads and Freight Handler to the Nation.

baconfestchi3 karma

Can't seem to get that formatted but Chicago has a LONG history with pork. More importantly, people here love to eat it now, chefs love to cook it, and bacon festers love to fest it.

Our event is pretty different from Des Moines - smaller and more gourmet restaurant focused.

Fireman_X1 karma

Gotcha. I will say Templeton strained with bacon fat and a zest of orange is heavenly if you guys do bacon experiments :)

Keep up the deliciously good work!

baconfestchi2 karma

Thanks - Templeton is one of our favorites. They've come to Baconfest Chicago every year since 2011.

whendoesOpTicplay3 karma

What spurred you to create the event back in 2009?

baconfestchi0 karma

Great question!

My partners went to see a rock and roll puppet musical called "Beer" which a local theater company put on (The Neo Futurists:

After the show they went home and thought - what do we feel so strongly about that we would write a rock and roll puppet musical about it. The obvious answer: BACON!

So they started writing some songs but got bored and decided to just throw a big bacon party instead.

I got a call at 11:30pm from my buds saying : "Dude - let me know what you think about this idea: Baconfest Chicago - The Burning Man of Bacon".

I liked the idea once I realized there were no art cars or hallucinogens involved.

The next week, we set up our fb / twitter and drafted our manifesto and started to get interest from restaurants and bacon-lovers.

whendoesOpTicplay2 karma

You're truly a visionary. I'm going to try to go this year.

baconfestchi1 karma

We'd love to see you there.

tall_bike1 karma

what a magical story. you "invented" this? Or did you just follow on after other successful events?

baconfestchi1 karma

We didn't learn about the existence of Blue Ribbon BaconFest until after we started building ours. We certainly know them now and wish them the best - Brooks came to our event last year. Convergent evolution i guess!

WeibullDisciple1 karma

Blue Ribbon used to be awesome because it was held in a bar and had a 'eat,drink, and be merry' atmosphere where everyone could share their love for bacon. Now it feels more like a trade show, just walking around in a large space looking at things and sampling. What is the atmosphere like at your events? I would love to take the trip to Chicago for this since Des Moines festival doesn't do it for me anymore.

baconfestchi1 karma

Come on up! Our event is indoors in a 23,000 sq ft meeting hall so trade comparisons are sorta apt but it's a real festive feeling event, lots of restaurants beer and partying going on.

numaricleorder2 karma

What's your favorite dessert recipe with bacon in it?

baconfestchi0 karma

This black cherry caramel bacon tart with bacon gelato from Black Dog Gelato is up there:

numaricleorder2 karma

Mother of God, that's a beauty.

baconfestchi4 karma

i know right?

SamuraiAlba2 karma

May I follow you on twitter? This is awesomes!

baconfestchi1 karma

But of course : @baconfestchi Thanks!

ohnoitsryan2 karma

Are you related to Kevin Bacon?

baconfestchi1 karma


sheepcat872 karma

What's your favorite brand of bacon that the average consumer can find in their grocery store?

baconfestchi1 karma

Nueskes had pretty wide distribution and you can order it online if you can't find it in a store near you:

Beastabuelos2 karma

Since alcohol is served there, is it a 21+ thing, or do the vendors card?

baconfestchi2 karma

It's not a 21+ event - there are a small minority of ticket holders that are not of drinking age. We check IDs at the door and wristband people who can drink.

MaidenATL2 karma

So would you say you're the "bacon king of Chicago"?

baconfestchi4 karma

I prefer Bacon Pimp but I'll take what I can get.

albino_peregrine1 karma


baconfestchi1 karma

no, sorry!

Betaadam1 karma

How did you become the best person ever?

baconfestchi1 karma


potato991 karma

Can I marry you?

baconfestchi2 karma

I think my wife might object :(

deathlord90001 karma

What's your definition of invent?

baconfestchi-1 karma

I mean we had an idea and then we made it happen. There are obviously other tasting events that we looked at for our model - Green City Market in Chicago throws an amazing BBQ every summer with great restaurants. So we didn't invent the idea of a ticketed food festival but there was no Baconfest Chicago before and now there is.

emshedoesit1 karma

I would imagine an event of this scale takes a ton of prep work leading up to it. So my question is, is this a full time job for you and your partners? Or do you guys have day jobs? And if you do have other jobs, how do you manage to find the time to organize such a huge event?

baconfestchi7 karma

Thanks for the good question - It takes about six months for us to pull each year's event together. All three of us have other work we do the rest of the year - not traditional day jobs. Eg. I do some database development work on the side. But I left my full time job just a couple of years ago to focus on Bacon and freelance stuff.

J_Carro111 karma

Hello Bacon aficionado, congrats on all your success with the event and hopes it keeps growing for years to come.

I wanted to ask you what methods did you use to get the word out about the event and any suggestions if I wanted start something of how to go about it?

baconfestchi3 karma

Thanks a lot! We hope so too.

We are creatures of social media. We've relied heavily on Twitter and FB to get the word out. We were lucky that our event came onto the scene at a moment when those channels were not overwhelmed with promotions so we were able to establish our voice and get to be part of the growing restaurant / foodie social media community.

Other than that, word of mouth, email, traditional PR. We get a fair amount of attention from local and national media. People like the bacon story.

MrMith1 karma

What's the best way to cook bacon?

baconfestchi3 karma

Depends! I like it fried hard with sunny-side up eggs. But there's a million ways I like it. One of the cool things about Baconfest is that you get to see how creative chefs work bacon into all sorts of dishes. Our buddy Pat Sheerin at Trenchermen in Chicago did a dish a few years ago that was Bacon-Stuffed Bacon: big slabs of bacon cut in to thick chunks that were then used as a sausage casing and stuffed with ground bacon. That bacon-log was braised with maple and topped with "whipped pancakes". Yum.

TheClasslessOne1 karma

What's your favorite "flavor" of bacon and what's a good recipe for jalapeno bacon?

baconfestchi3 karma

I'm a traditionalist - i like the clean sweet smoke of an applewood bacon. In terms of jalapeƱo bacon - sounds like it'd be good in a bacon-guacamole. Here's one that the restaurant Mercadito brought to last year's baconfest:

live9free1or1die1 karma

My native city already has a competing baconfest which makes me wonder how many baconfest business owners there are. I was curious, do you plan on branching out to other cities?

baconfestchi1 karma

There has been a baconfest explosion since we started. In 2009, the only other Baconfests we were aware of were Des Moines and Atlanta. Since then there are hundreds of other fests that have appeared, some great, some less than great, some restaurant focused and gourmet like ours, others that are more carnivalesque.

We have entertained expansion into other cities - we were very close to doing a festival in San Francisco two years ago but had to bail on it for a combination of reasons (timing, finances, etc). We've looked into DC and Green Bay WI too but haven't made another one happen yet.

We work very hard on making Baconfest Chicago a truly fun and awesome event and would only expand if we could be confident that we'd be able to reproduce what we like about our event in new cities without going broke :)

barakados1 karma

What was the hardest part of creating baconfest? The easiest? What's the strangest thing you've seen?

baconfestchi1 karma

The hardest part is the logistics - basically we have one room that we rent for a couple of days and spend six months arranging for stuff and people to arrive at that room in a very short window of time. That's equipment, tables, chefs, food, beer, tradeshow booths, furniture, computers, merch, etc. All has to get there at the right time. The week of the event is always a little hair-raising to be sure that all the stuff gets to the right place. Since we have different restaurants at each shift, it's complicated to get them in and out with all their stuff - on Saturday we have a lunch shift and a dinner shift - between the two, we have move 50 restaurants out of the room, clean it up, and get 50 new restaurants back in - all in about two hours. I don't really relax that weekend until the changeover is done.

The easiest? drinking a cold beer on the mezzanine looking out over the crowd at 6:15 during the saturday shift and realizing that we conjured that experience out of thin air:

Strangest? These awesome bacon pirates that came and won our costume contest:

secret_targaryen1 karma

are you my bacon deity?

baconfestchi0 karma

Yes. Duh.

I mean, no. Duh.

I mean. How would I know if I was?

secret_targaryen2 karma

For God so loved the world that he gave us BaconFest, that whoever believes in bacon shall not perish but have eternal life. ~Bacon 3:16

baconfestchi0 karma

Thus saith the lord. Amen. Let's eat.


How do you feel about fakon?

baconfestchi4 karma

Never had it. I'm not sure I understand the whole imitation meat thing. I like bacon. Bacon is bacon. Facon is something else.

MrHobbes821 karma

If you could do another food related fest, other than bacon, what would you do?

baconfestchi2 karma

We have discussed other options - it's tough to imagine another food group that inspires the same level of passion as bacon. But I could see doing an international dumpling fest - pierogies, potstickers, wontons, etc.

baconfestchi0 karma

We read about it when it was going down. It sucks that they weren't able to pull it off successfully. We've been lucky in that we grew organically and have been able to anticipate pretty well how much food we'll need to accommodate all of our guests.

danideahl1 karma

Why is there not a baconfest after party and why am I not DJing it?

baconfestchi1 karma

We usually do a little after party at Three Aces and they always play their now metal playlist. But I'm down for whatever - let's talk!

sixner1 karma

I live in Chicago, and thought about going last year but there are many fantastic festivals and the prices make it difficult to go to more than a few.

Why should I choose this fest?

baconfestchi2 karma

1 Bacon!

2 Awesome chefs from some of the best restaurants in the city: Chris Pandel, Jared VanCamp, Matt Troost.

3 It's an all-inclusive ticket - you get all the food you can handle plus up to seven drinks.

4 It's good for America - we give a portion of proceeds to the Greater Chicago Food Depository, $75k last year; over $200k since we started.

5 Also bacon.

yeahnoduh1 karma


baconfestchi1 karma

Ohai! I still do. I had a dog and I have a five-year now. Who are you!?

sfall1 karma

What do you guys do for the rest of the year?

baconfestchi2 karma

One of my partners is in school to become a physical therapist. Another is a theater guy. I do some freelance database work in Filemaker Pro (for real) and hang out with wife and our five year old son.


Is your family sick of eating bacon yet?

baconfestchi2 karma

Not yet :)

kitsuneko881 karma

My friends bought a Bacon vodka... have you tried it? Any suggestions on how to make something amazing with it?

Second, have you gone to any other restaurants bacon events? There is a great farm to fork place in LaPorte, IN. The chef does a bacon week around his birthday every year. (My parents are obsessed with the place and chef. We go to eat there just about every time I visit them.)

baconfestchi1 karma

Yes, we've had BAKON vodka as a sponsor in the past. We couldn't work it our for last year, but we know and love the product and the guys who make it.

We've been to a few other bacon events for research. What's the place in Laporte? Sounds good!

hdpq1 karma

baconfestchi1 karma

Bacon salt, yes. Bacon condom, no.

RamboGoesMeow1 karma

Would you be willing to adopt a 27 year old man? Also, do you know if it is possible to order a sampler of Nueske's applewood smoked meats?

~~ Bacon 3:16 ~~

baconfestchi2 karma

Hmmm. Have to touch base with my wife on the adoption question. Don't break your lease until you hear from me.

Here are some Nueskes samplers (hope this link works!):

danideahl1 karma

Thoughts on Benton's bacon?

baconfestchi2 karma

I think it's awesome. Chris Dunstatter from 694 Wine Bar brings a bentons BLT to the event every year and it's mighty tasty.

JimsanityOSB1 karma

baconfestchi1 karma

I have in fact. I used to live in Hyde Park on the south side and there is a big colony of them at 53rd and the Lake.

Puck_Rabbit1 karma

What does it feel like to be doing God's work? The pig is a magical creature.

baconfestchi2 karma

Feels good, man.

The_Appalachian1 karma

Is a Chicago-style hot dog better with bacon?

Chicago is listening!

baconfestchi1 karma

Well, it's not orthodox in terms of the classic chicago dog, but hey, it's bacon right? Can't hurt!

Truffle_Shuffle_851 karma

Is there anything that does not taste good with bacon (other than toothpaste)?

baconfestchi1 karma

Haven't had anything yet that made me run for the hills :) I'll keep trying.

Silversun51 karma

Is there anything you AREN'T willing to incorporate bacon into?

baconfestchi1 karma

I mentioned below that I'm not that interested in bacon condoms :)

threeteen1 karma

Do you feel that more people like to say that they like bacon rather than actually liking bacon?

baconfestchi2 karma

That is not my experience. I have seen some epic feats of consumption that would indicate that expressed love of bacon is real.

foundinwonderland1 karma

What was your favorite dish served at Baconfest last year? Who is one chef you'd be most excited to get to cook for Baconfest?

If only I weren't totally broke, I would go every year. As is, I just ogle pictures and make my own bacon and pretend it's the same thing.

baconfestchi1 karma

It's very hard to choose a favorite, but the bacon in clams casino broth that Michael Jordan's brought last year was awesome. Three Aces did a dish called the Shake n Bake: Bacon Steak with a Bacon Shake a couple of years back that was ridonkulous:

I'd love to get Sean Brock from Husk to fly in.

SmrticlePrticle0 karma

What sort of bacon did you enjoy eating most while growing up?

baconfestchi2 karma

I have vivid memories of going to the Roy Rogers breakfast bar with my dad and piling that sweaty lukewarm leathern bacon on my plate (along with sausage links). We didn't often have bacon at home - not kosher! - so it made a real impression when I got to eat bacon at a restaurant.

heyAssman0 karma

Myself and 3 partners put on a bacon fest in Virginia, any advice you would give to us as we get to work putting together our 3rd festival?

baconfestchi2 karma

Looks like you guys are doing fine! Make sure there's plenty of bacon; everything else is secondary.

baconpieguy0 karma

Need any bacon meringue pies? :D

baconfestchi1 karma

Yes, please. email me: [email protected]

scchvb010 karma

God bless you, sir.

What's the largest amount of bacon you've cooked so far?

Edit: in your entire life, not just at the fest?

baconfestchi2 karma

Thank you. I accept your blessing :)

Our bacon sponsor Nueske's delivers bacon to the restaurants who want to use it their event. Last year they shipped 7,800 lbs of bacon to our exhibitors. So, in a way, I cooked nearly 4 tons of bacon that day.

For my own personal consumption - I probably haven't cooked more than a pound at a time.

scchvb011 karma

Do you participate in the consumption of this bacon at the fest, or have you focused on cooking it instead? I think, as much as I love bacon I might get baconed out!

baconfestchi2 karma

At the festival itself, I'm usually running around like a chicken with my head cut off so I don't get to eat as much as I'd like. We have a chef competition - restaurants compete to win the "Golden Rasher" for most creative use of bacon. I try to sample all of the finalists and winners at least. Last year, Michael Jordan's steakhouse made a bacon-chunk in clams casino broth with little calabrian chilis that won one of the prizes. It was outstanding:

salt-the-skies1 karma

Credit the chef AND the restaurant, when you offer this kind of praise!

I can't tell you how many restaurateur built establishments I have worked at where the owner (even celebrity chef sometimes) has zero real input on the menu. Meanwhile a very talented, unrecognized chef develops and executes the menu that is making the place desirable, while trying to build a name for himself so he can open his own place.

baconfestchi3 karma

You know what, you're right! The chef from Michael Jordans is named James O'Donnell and he's a titan.

trippin1130 karma

$100 for bacon and beer? Am I missing something here?

baconfestchi3 karma

I mean that's the basic idea. The bacon dishes are pretty interesting and showcase a lot of creativity from some excellent chefs. There's more than just beer - cocktails and wine too. But yeah, it's $100 for access to a bacon-wonderland. Plus there is a charitable component - we gave $75,000 to the Greater Chicago Food Depository last year alone. Think of it as a nice meal out including drinks.

Slanderpanic0 karma

Have you boys ever booked the Bacon Brothers Band?

baconfestchi1 karma

We haven't yet. There was a Kevin Bacon Film Festival last year as part of our Bacon Month programming at the Acme Hotel. They tried to get KB himself to come but no dice.

radams50000 karma

Have you found anything that doesn't go well with bacon?

baconfestchi3 karma

Not yet but I'm having fun trying.

adub8870 karma

How do you dispose of all the bacon grease? I would sell it to restaurants, or make the worlds biggest bowl of fried rice.

Edit: Maybe before hand, roll the biggest joint.

baconfestchi1 karma

Ha - we tried to get a partnership with a bio-diesel company but it didn't work out. Someday.

In the meantime, we have a grease disposal company that drops off a few 55-gallon drums which we fill up with leftover grease and they take it away.

rw531040 karma

What's your favorite way to make or mix up a BLT?

baconfestchi1 karma

One of my life goals is to make a hundred percent homemade BLT. Mill the flour, bake the bread, grow the lettuce and tomato, make mayo from a backyard chicken eggs, cure my own bacon etc. It'll happen.

Desjardins920 karma

How much bacon do you eat every week?

baconfestchi6 karma

The week of Baconfest, I eat a lot. The rest of the year ... i dunno, a pound a month? But I think about bacon every day.

AnyasCat0 karma

Ever had animal rights activists or vegetarian/vegans attack you? And if so, a story please?

baconfestchi3 karma

Aside from the occasional comment on our FB or Twitter no attacks.

Iamgoofy0 karma

If I show up wearing some sort of bacon suit... Could I get a discount?

baconfestchi2 karma

You could win tickets to the next year in our costume contest!

Toadahtrip0 karma

Hey I LOVE BACON is there anyway to volunteer for this or join this lovely movement of delicious bacon and beer. I live on the outskirts of chicago... Did I say I love bacon?

baconfestchi1 karma

Hey! we do have volunteer opportunities. Email [email protected]

LivingInTheVoid-3 karma

How do you feel about the pain and suffering the pigs have to go through for you to eat their flesh?

baconfestchi10 karma

Welp. I'm not happy about any pain and suffering but I think people make their own informed decisions about whether they're comfortable eating meat and do their best to eat meat that's raised in a situation that's as humane and sustainable as possible.

LivingInTheVoid-3 karma

I disagree. I think most people are unaware of where their food comes from. I highly doubt, especially in Chicago, that people ask what goes into the pigs before slaughter.

I don't want to preach too much, but I recommend looking into how pigs and other animals are "farmed"

If the pig gave you it's life for you to survive, you owe it to them to know what they went through.

baconfestchi12 karma

I respect your position. Everybody's got to make their own decision about their eating habits and I'm comfortable with mine.