The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Bacon Bonanza At Third Annual Bacon Takedown

By Minna A in Food on Sep 19, 2012 7:20PM

Last Sunday, Chicago’s bacon-lovers descended on Lincoln Hall to vote for their favorite home cooks and their creative bacon creations for the 3rd Annual Bacon Takedown.

Sponsored by Hormel Black Label bacon, the Takedown asked 15 local cooks with varying levels of experience to create inspired dishes using bacon. This year’s winner and reigning champions, Nick Angel and Josh Gutzwiller, created a bacon tostada and walked away not only with their oven mitt trophy, but cookware and a year’s supply of bacon. (Wonder what that looks like?)

Among the talented cooks was Chicagoist’s very own Caitlin Klein, who shared her experience:

I love cooking competitions. I also lose most of them. I've competed with the Chicago Cooking Chicks at the Kenmore Studios in River North (and lost), I entered the 2010 Chicago Bacon Takedown (and lost), and I've entered hundreds of recipe contests online. You guessed it. I lost most of them. It's not all doom and gloom - once I won $1,000 and a pound of pecans for a pecan recipe that I threw together in 15 minutes, and it felt like the cooking heavens had opened up and the glory rained down.

So when Matt Timms came back to Chicago for another round of the Chicago Bacon Takedown, I was all like, sure. The competition is this: Hormel provides you with 15 pounds of bacon. You take that bacon home and use it to make a dish you can serve to 300 people. Two years ago I made bacon caramel corn (the corn was even popped in bacon fat!), but no dice. Even though Chuck Sudo was a judge, and he has excellent taste, my bacontastic caramel corn was not the winner of the day. (This was before I started writing for the site, so Chuck's moral standards as a judge are not in question.)

This year, I made ginger maple sweet potatoes with brown sugared bacon. I was sure that this was a winner. This was Thanksgiving in a cup. With bacon. The bacon was crisp, the sweet potatoes were creamy, and the sweetness of the maple and the brown sugar combined with the tang of the ginger really rounded out the whole dish. BUT ALAS, yet again, I did not win. Maybe next year. 'Cause you know what? I'll be back.

You can view the winning recipes here.

Do you want Caitlin's recipe for ginger maple sweet potatoes with brown sugared bacon? If you ask nicely, maybe she'll disclose it to us...