The Big Bite Bacon Fest last Saturday at the San Diego County Fair provided over 4,000 guests and FOB’s (Friends of Bacon) with a way to taste a lot of great bacon-based food items. The Del Mar Arena was full of the scent of sizzling bacon, roasted pork belly, bacon wrapped meatballs, grilled chicken legs wrapped in bacon and more tasty treats. There were even Bacon S’mores and bacon cupcakes. Bacon based beverages and 40 micro-beers from local breweries completed the choices for everyone.
Ghost Scream Hot Sauce offered Spicy Caramel Popcorn while Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlor offered a ‘Hunka Hunka Burning Love Bacon Sundae’ as a tribute to Elvis. Slater’s 50/50 brought their signature cheeseburger with their patty of 50% ground bacon and 50% beef. Meanwhile, the San Diego Donut Bar had plenty of Maple Bacon Bars to enjoy. Big Mista’s BBQ from Long Beach came down to bring their signature Pig Candy to the event, one of the most delicious bacon items ever created. Meat, Inc. brought their ‘Moink Balls’ and Dominic’s at the Harbor had some delicious pork belly.
The highlight of the event was the Big Bite Bacon Fest live cooking competition. As one of the judges, I got to enjoy many fantastic dishes from each team. The teams consisted of one professional chef, one amateur chef and one child chef. The competition, hosted by Star 94.1’s Josh Lozano, was anxiously watched by the audiences as the chefs, who had 90 minutes to prepare and plate their dishes, presented them to us.
Kiely Kuhlmann and Josh Rennick tied for the first place prize for Best Child’s Chef. After a suspenseful coin toss, Kiely and her Bacon-Wrapped Roast Pork Tenderloin took the winner’s spot and a prize of cooking classes from Sur La Table. The first place Best Amateur Chef went to Juli Hull and her Maple French Toast Cupcake filled with Bone Marrow. Derek Jaeger, from The Cravory, impressed the judges with his sweet dish of Bacon Cornbread Cookie and Blackberry Pepper Jam. The winning team, for first place in the Best Team category, was the trio Kiely Kuhlmann, Derek Jaeger, and Sammy Brooks. Derek and Sammy will now be taking their talents to the World Food Championship in Las Vegas.
To me, the most amazing thing was the dishes from the young chefs. If I had not seen them bring the items to present at the judge’s table, I would not have guessed that they were not professional chefs. These young chefs will go far.
For any Angelenos that missed the San Diego event, the Big Bite Bacon Fest will be in Long Beach next at the Queen Mary on Saturday, August 2nd. Information and event tickets are available at www.bigbiteevents.com.