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Bacon competition sizzles in Columbus’ North Market

Cody Cousino / Multimedia editor

For many, bacon is an irresistible staple in the American diet, and there was plenty of it Saturday at Bacon Camp Columbus at the North Market.

Forty-two pounds of bacon, to be exact.

Bacon aficionados crowded into the North Market’s upstairs kitchen to spectate the Bacon Cooking competitions and partake in bacon-infused treats.

And yes, it’s true – all told, 42 pounds of bacon were sliced, cooked and, presumably, eaten – there weren’t many leftovers.

The sold-out event was a veritable pork-a-palooza – you’d be hard-pressed to imagine a bacon concoction that wasn’t present at the event. Some of the delicacies sampled by ticketed patrons and competition judges included bacon meatballs in a bacon marinara sauce, banana cupcakes with milk chocolate-bacon frosting (topped with crumpled bacon bits, of course), bacon-chocolate croissants and “bacolicious” maple-glazed doughnuts.

There was also a bacon ice cream sundae containing alcohol, and who could forget the “old-fashioned” bacon sandwich cookie?

Bobby Law, a fifth-year in chemical and biomolecular engineering, said one of his favorite bacon dishes was the bacolicious doughnuts, adding that he enjoyed most of the items he sampled during the event.

“The bacon doughnut, I didn’t think I was going to enjoy,” Law said. “It’s hard to pinpoint one (item) and I enjoyed most of it.”

Hollywood Casino chef John Franke, 31, of Columbus, came away empty-handed in the food competition. Franke created a vanilla-bacon cheesecake with a chipotle-chocolate ganache.

The name of Franke’s dish alone might not give it justice, though.

“The crust is made with Nilla Wafers and graham crackers and there’s no butter in it – it’s all bacon fat,” Franke said. “So, that’s what binds it with the brown sugar. The chocolate ganache – last night I decided against using cream for it, and I got the Rogue Voodoo-Doughnut Ale, a maple-bacon ale from them, and used that for the ganache. I topped it off with crispy bacon. There’s bacon in the cheesecake as well.”

Clearly, the Sweet and Savory bacon cooking competitions were stacked. In the end, two members of Cooking Caravan, a Columbus organization that educates people how to “cook nutritious, economical and aesthetically-pleasing meals,” according to its website, swept the two divisions.

Columbus native John Croke’s bacon taco took the top prize in the Savory division while fellow Columbus resident Chuck Johnson, creator of the alcoholic bacon ice cream sundae, won the Sweet division.

It was Queenie Chow, an OSU employee at the Digital Union, who proved herself to be best in show. Her bacon-oatmeal cookies were crowned the overall bacon-cooking champion.

Among other prizes, winners were presented with packets of bacon salt and pig-shaped bars of soap.

Chow said she had been working on the cookie for about a year and was shocked when the judges’ announcement came across the loud speakers in the room.

And she said she knew exactly what the judges liked about her dish.

“It was the little, tiny sunny-side up egg (garnish),” Chow said. “It was made from a little piece of Bartlett pear and orange zest, and I think that that garnish really pushed it over the top.”

Tickets for the sold-out event cost $10, and children under 12 were admitted for free.

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