Hey Piggy Piggy: Another Baconfest In The Books

By Lisa White in Food on Apr 21, 2015 4:10PM

Bacon fans are a passionate bunch of pork lovers, traveling far and wide and dressing up in all things pig-related to celebrate their love of the sweet and salty meat. The 7th annual Baconfest Chicago was a testament to their love, with 170 Chicago chefs serving up over 4,500 people this past weekend at UIC Forum. The two day event had three sessions, all with different chefs serving up their bacon-inspired treats alongside cocktails and craft beer selections. The event also raised $75,000 for the Greater Chicago Food Depository.

We joined in on the fun during the Saturday afternoon session, full of pork products, people dressed up in pork attire and lots of bottled water to help aid our massive salt intake. Here are some of our favorite bites:

-Bacon chiyawanmushi from Slurping Turtle and chef Takashi Yagihashi. The warm eggy custard was made to order so everything was fresh and piping hot. Perfect slabs of thick bacon mixed with shiitake mushrooms and a bacon-dashi glaze was comforting and just the right amount of richness- a play on breakfast that we'd gladly eat every day.

-Grilled pork belly from Celeste and chef Nick Lacasse. Celeste had some of the most perfectly cooked pork of the day, complimented with sweet-tart honey poached cranberries over a bed of buttery Anson Mills grits.

-Bacon tarte flambe from David Burke's Primehouse and chef Jove Hubbard. One of the most visually striking dishes, this little square tarte had wonderful layers of flavors and textures, from a rich, slightly sweet Vidalia-braised bacon to a peppery bright hollandaise sauce and some nice crunch from the crispy leeks and buttery crust.

-A bacon grilled cheese from Blue Door Farm Stand and chef Justin Ferguson. A humble grilled cheese was anything but that, with perfectly crisp bacon wedged next to a gooey mac and cheese. Pickled peppers gave a much needed hit of acid to cut through the richness and the crunchy bread gave the dish a nice texture.

-Both bacon pineapple doughnut offerings from Beaver’s Coffee & Donuts and Firecakes. We couldn't pick just one winning bacon and pineapple doughnut. Chopped up bacon on a doughnut is one way to our pork loving hearts.

-Bacon parfait from Bacaro and chef Thad Morrow. The words bacon mousse had me a bit worried but Bacaro's bacon parfait was all about balance. It was surprisingly light and the raspberry bacon crumble brought a wonderful tartness to a dish that found the perfect ratio of sweet and salty.

-Bacon custard pie from Table, Donkey and Stick and chef Scott Manley. Another dessert that had me skeptical at first (peas and chocolate?!) but won me over with its subtle flavors and balance between sweet and savory. I spoke to chef Manley about the cake, which included a cookie cake crust made with bacon fat instead of butter to start. Then they topped it with a pea "custard" filling that was more like a whipped mousse, a smooth chocolate ganache and studded the bites with candied peas, carrots and bacon. It wasn't an overly sweet dessert, which was nice compared to some of the sugary overload dishes during the day.

Overall Baconfest 2015 was full of porky pride and tasty bites all while helping out a great cause.