The epic, porcine force that is Baconfest descends upon Chicago for its third year this weekend, and organizers predict that the crowd of more than three thousand "will have bacon coming out of their ears before the day is out."
The festival includes expos of "bacontrepreneurs" showcasing craft bacon and other bacon-related products, and a chef expo featuring bacon-based creations from some of the city's most buzzed-about chefs and mixologists.
Participants will be competing for the coveted Golden Rasher award, the "Oscars of the bacon world," awarded by a panel of eating experts. Last year's winners were James Toland from The Black Sheep for his Banana panna cotta, cherry wood-smoked bacon brittle, and Nathan Sears from Vie for his roast pork belly with lemon marmalade and pine nut aillade.
As in previous years, the event's enthusiastic media sponsor, the Chicago Reader, produced a teaser video featuring some of the 25 chefs on the bill. (See above.)
This year they also sponsored a bacon-based cocktail contest, with hard-to-get tickets to Saturday's festival and a Golden Rasher on the line. Zach Piper took home the Rasher and the passes with his Barded Blackbird, a citrusy concoction centered on Black Grouse scotch washed in bacon fat.
Tickets to Baconfest sold out in minutes, as they did last year, but weep not, ticketless masses: nearly fifty of the featured restaurants are offering their bacony festival concoctions as specials or on their regular menus. (See a full list of the dishes available as menu items here.)
Planning to swing by the 'fest this weekend? Share your squeals of bacony delight in the comments.
Take a tour of last year's fest with The Food Network: