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Bacon Takedown Returns to Austin

Rain or shine, Austinites and visitors love that bacon
Jourden Sander, 6:30pm, Mon. Mar. 11, 2013

Thirty minutes prior to the Bacon Takedown, the line from Hickory Street was out the door and around the corner. People had come to see an amateur cooking contest where 16 competitors battled with bacon as their main ingredient. The potential audience members stood in the rain with empty stomachs. These people wanted their bacon.

A drizzly day on the patio at Hickory Street
photo by Jourden Sander
The Bacon Takedown hit Austin during the opening of South by Southwest Interactive for the fourth year in a row. Austinites were all too happy to be taste testers for the experimental recipes, rain or shine. This contest has were no rules. By 2:10, the doors opened and the hungry taste testers filed in. No time was wasted as lines were immediately formed, and audience members explored the boundaries of cooked bacon. Or perhaps, lack thereof, as the cheftestants said.

Gumbo, quesadillas, pesto, tamales, ziti: every dish was built around the ingredient of bacon. While all were equally unique, audience members buzzed about the Glazed Pig donut; a traditional glazed donut with crispy bacon infused in the sweetness. Starlo Brower, cheftestant and creator of the Glazed Pig Donut, said anything’s better with bacon. “Donuts are a breakfast food, and we thought it would be great to combine it with bacon. You get all your breakfast flavors in one bite. It’s salty then sweet, which is the attraction people like. And how can you go wrong with bacon?” No disagreements here.

Glazed Pig Doughnuts
photo by Jourden Sander

Audience members continued circling the room while filling their bellies with some of the most sinfully delicious food they’ve ever tasted. By 3:20, most of the bacon dishes were eaten and Matt Timms, the creator of the Takedown series, reminded all audience members it was the last chance to cast their vote for the competition. After audience members submitted their votes, Timms introduced the esteemed panel of judges which included: Austin American-Statesman food writer Addie Broyles, food blogger Christy Horton, Elizabeth Van Huffel of Local Savor, and Bravo’s Top Chef Season Ten semi-finalist, bacon-loving chef Joshua Valentine.

Contestants serving the crowd
photo by Jourden Sander

For first place, in addition to culinary glory and bacon bragging rights, the winner would receive a one year supply of Hormel Black Label Bacon and a variety of top-of-the-line cookware. With the cheftestants on their toes, the judges revealed the Judge’s Choice first place prize was to be awarded to Alex LaRoche and Miltus Callahan-Barile for their Bacon Tamales.

Timms then stepped forward to announce the People’s Choice Award. The audience members bestowed their prize on a shocked and thrilled Krista White for her Whiskey Pigs dish; smoked chicken and jalapeno wrapped in bacon and drowned in whiskey sauce. As the awards ceremony came to a close, Timms thanked the audience and the chefs for making the Austin Bacon Takedown another big success.

“It’s all about home cooks, and it’s always been about home cooks,” Timms said. “These contestants don’t have very many opportunities to show their talent outside their friends and families. It gets better and better every year, especially as more people find out about it. I love that I have this community, and in my mind, I wish it wasn’t a competition. At the end of the day, they’re all such great people. It’s all about the people, and about getting people together.”

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