They came to battle in the name of bacon – 14 local chefs with dreams of pork-belly supremacy.
The Sacramento Bacon Fest 2015 chefs competition capped a week local bacon-mania, with a sold out crowd of 200 at Mulvaney’s B&L sampling some of Sacramento’s best bites of bacon on Sunday afternoon.
Chefs competed in several categories: Best bacon, best alternative bacon (using bacon-like preparations to various parts of a pig or other animal), best dish and best overall. There was also a people’s choice award.
The would-be bacon champs packed the kitchen and dining room of Mulvaney’s B&L, prepping their dishes to be served to attendees at the adjacent Pig on the Corner events space.
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With the foie gras ban recently lifted, this once forbidden ingredient was a popular choice for Sunday’s competing chefs. Dishes included a chip dip made by the Mulaney’s B&L crew with foie gras, onion soup mix and topped with sprinkles of bacon bits. But the traditional breakfast meat took many forms – part of a bourbon infused Jell-O shot from Hook & Ladder, and styled up as pastrami by Grange’s Hilary Banard.
The crowd scarfed away as DJ Shaun Slaughter kept the mix upbeat. A judging panel meanwhile sampled the dishes blind and took notes on scoring sheets that became increasingly messy as the competition rolled along.
Judges included such local chefs as Billy Ngo (Kru), Adam Pechal (former Tuli Bistro), Adam Schulze (The Waterboy), plus the local fishmongers Nguyen Pham and Michael Passmore. I also joined the cholesterol-raising competition with local food writer Becky Grunewald and Dani Luzzatti, a caterer and food consultant.
With all the bacon sampled and ballots cast, here’s who won:
Best Bacon: Ian MacBride of Lucca, (a winner at Bacon Fest 2014).
Best Alternative Bacon: Pastrami-styled bacon from Grange’s Banard.
Best Dish: Brian Mizner of Hook & Ladder, with bacon fried rice with ginger and spice.
Best Overall: Brock Macdonald of Block Butcher Bar, for a whopper of a presentation that included pate stuffed and cooked in a pig’s head, lentils and braised chard, and some of the day’s best bacon.
People’s Choice: Del Gibbs of Shady Lady, with Korean style pork belly served with glass noodles and kimchee.
Bacon Fest 2015 was meanwhile marked by over 70 eateries partaking in the pork-fueled fun. Highlights included the popular bacon paella at Selland’s Market, which sold 200 servings in about four hours, an epic bacon burger at Grange and freshly fried chicharrones from Drewski’s Hot Rod Kitchen.
“My favorite bacon dish of the week was a little bacon biscuit that I had at Lucca,” said Brian Guido, co-founder of Bacon Fest. “It was perfect, nice and light. It’s been a great week.”
Call The Bee’s Chris Macias, (916) 321-1253. Follow him on Twitter @chris_macias.