If you love Bacon, you’ve heard of or been to Baconfest. There is a lot more to the event then over indulgence. Baconfest has become a year round parade to salty, cured goodness and will have its third large format dine around event at UIC Forum in 92 days – April 14, 2012. I caught up with one of the founder’s Seth recently and got to ask some “in-depth” questions about one of the men behind the Baconfest Empire and their future thoughts and plans.
Seth is a funny guy with a varied background from his technical day job to acting to writing, as well as, his love of cured pork belly. I also appreciate how he wanted to make sure any picture or mention of Baconfest also included his partners. I dig the humility and friendship.
Without further ado…
Name Seth Zurer
Event Baconfest Chicago
Married Kerensa Peterson
From Washington DC
University Univ of Chicago
Twitter Handle @baconfestchi
1. What did you have for lunch yesterday?
SZ: Edzo’s burger – fat not griddled, caramel milkshake, fries and bites of an inside out grilled cheese
2. Place you eat most often?
SZ: Salam for Falafel in Albany Park
3. Favorite ingredient to work with other than bacon?
SZ: (Laughs) Not bacon --- um, heavy cream
4. If I gave you $10,000 how would you spend it?
SZ: It would definitely go in to a house fund.
5. First word that comes to mind when I say foodie?
SZ: Fest – (I thought he said pest at first!)
6. Favorite Charity Event that you attend other than Baconfest events?
SZ: Barrel of Monkeys is a great organization working with Chicago Public School Kids.
7. Last weekend on earth – what city are you eating in?
8. What did you want to be when you were growing up?
CFS: Action Hero?
CFS: Not Romantic Comedies?
SZ: (laughs) No
9. Most exotic vacation destination that you’ve been to?
SZ: Spice Islands of Zanzibar, it was awesome and very remote.
CFS: Honeymoon with the wife?
SZ: No it was before we met.
10. If you left Chicago to go somewhere else, where would you migrate to for work?
SZ: NYC or LA
11. Most embarrassing Bacon moment?
SZ: Hmmm, I can’t think of one (pauses) ya I don’t have one.
12. What are you most excited about right now?
SZ: Working with the Greater Chicago Food Depository to expand what we do with them. We’re hoping to develop a volunteer day for Baconfest fans and some other cool stuff.
13. Do you have any pet peeves?
SZ: My pet peeve is when people call things bacon that aren’t bacon!
CFS: Like Turkey bacon…
SZ: ya…beef bacon – bacon not made from pork belly. I’m sure it tastes good.
CFS: So it’s cured but that doesn’t make it bacon…
SZ: Exactly, let’s call it what it is and be precise.
CFS: I’m with ya. I can’t stand soy milk. Why don’t they call it soy juice?
14. What’s your karaoke song?
SZ: It’s “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” by Willie Nelson
CFS: Wow, they always have that?
SZ: No but I can adapt to “On the Road Again”
15. You say there are no –ick moments when it comes to Bacon but is there a bite or taste you’ve experienced that you’d like to omit from your memory bank?
SZ: (laughs) I think that I can say as someone who has overindulged in a lot of bacon it’s never the first bite of bacon but more like the 50th bite.
16. What are you putting on your bacon sandwiches besides more bacon?
SZ: Well…I’m going to go with some nice grainy mustard, soft squishy cheese and some pickles.
17. What’s your ideal Bacon?
SZ: Neuske’s gets really close. I like a bacon that isn’t ashamed of its nature. Bacon has to be cured with nitrates, smoky and a good salt profile. Organic is nice but it’s not the same.
18. Why do you support the Greater Chicago Food Depository so much?
SZ: I think that we all were a little tuned in that it’s potentially unseemly access to bacon and Baconfest could be perceived as wasteful. We wanted to balance that out by partnering with a group doing important work around food. We really think they have a big impact on hunger and it’s become one of the most rewarding parts of the whole event for us. They do so much at the root level.
19. When you first had the dream of a fest around Bacon –wait, were you guys drunk?
SZ: (laughter) no
SZ: I wasn’t drunk!
CFS: Ok…so SOBER…did you foresee the success you‘ve had and in the third year have 100 chefs?
SZ: Not in our wildest fantasies. We knew it would be fun and have some wide appeal. I was unemployed and we had no idea of the caliber of chef’s we would have gotten at that first year even.
20. What’s the over under on how fast tickets will sell out this year?
SZ: Um, well, we’re hopeful – less than a minute. We’re doubling up the tickets so more people can come. But VIP sold out quick.
CFS: So VIP will be like last year where it’s much quieter?
SZ: Ya, we’re doing two shifts and calling it lunch and dinner. If you think Baconfest is heaven then the VIP tickets are like having heaven all to yourself!
CFS: It’s nice – last year was like a Walmart rush on Black Friday when the doors opened for the masses, don’t fall!
21. Your day job involves website technical development and implementation – how do you balance the time between that and the Baconfest Empire? Aren’t you expanding?
SZ: Ya we’re exploring San Francisco and DC. It’s the biggest challenge for us. There are three partners and we’re all accountable for different times and things since we have regular day jobs. The goal would be to have Baconfest be our main job
22. Being from DC - Wizards or Bullets?
SZ: I gotta go Bullets – Wizards is lame!
CFS: Do you like the new logo
SZ: I haven’t seen it…I’m not a huge basketball fan.
CFS: Ok how about this because I know you like Politics – Marion Berry
SZ: (Laughing) love the guy
CFS: Or Mayor Daley? Which corruption do you take?
SZ: (Laughing) I will say this Marion Berry there was no one more virtuostic at operating DC city government. He knew everyone’s weak points and how to get it done. Even after all his troubles, he got reelected again! He had hutzpah.
Seth thanks for taking the time and playing 20 questions. If you want to learn more about Baconfest and the dinners they host, check out their website. You can also buy some sweet swag as well.
If you liked these 20 questions, check out the how Ryan Poli, Francis Brenna, Giuseppe Tentori, Charlie McKenna, Chris Pandel , Michael Muser, Curtis Duffy , Rob Katz/Kevin Boehm, Michael Taus, Chris Curren, Patricio Sandoval, Bill Terlato, Matthias Merges , Vic Perdue, Sheila O'Grady, Adam Rapoport, Andrew Knowlton, Jeff Kauck, Nicole Pederson and Ce Bian answered.
Joe is a Chicago based food blogger and his blog is called the Chicago Food Snob. Joe also contributes to Eater Chicago. You can find him on twitter at @chifoodsnob.