Sunday, May 27, 2012

[EID Feature] Why Our Baconfest is Best

Friends, Detroiters, Michiganders, lend me your ear. Too many of you are far too willing to supplicate yourselves before the mighty myth that is Chicago as a quote-unquote real city, and in the process effectively invalidating our entire city - nay STATE - as inherently inferior. You are like abused housewives, so battered by this bully that you are utterly convinced of your own worthlessness and willing to kowtow to a supposed superiority that is truth only because you've heard it enough times to make it so. Stop this. You are good enough, you are smart enough, and gosh darnit people like you. Chicago can't control you anymore. It's time you free yourselves of its oppressive shackles!

What do they have? A few good urban beaches and a snazzy pier! What do we have? 3,288 miles of unspoiled coastline and Belle Freakin' Isle! What do they have? Restaurants where the staff dresses in T-shirts and jeans and sits down next to you like you're in gat-damn Joe's Crab Shack where it will still cost $100 per person before you walk out the door and you practically had to sit in a stranger's lap because you're packed in so tight and you STILL had to wait two hours for a table on a Tuesday! What do we have? Ample Midwestern personal space and hospitality, and talented chefs who don't act like they're doing you favors by letting you eat in their restaurants! ...and also Slows. (The list goes on. For awhile. I'm happy to share any time. Bottom line: if it's New York you want, to New York you should go. Not this fake imitation New York that's just as expensive but only a fraction as good. Would you go to Las Vegas and stay in the New York-themed casino hotel in lieu of going to Actual New York? No, you would not. And neither should you go to a New York-themed city when a flight to Actual New York costs as much as the gas money to drive to Fake New York.)

The Frankenbacon from Detroit BBQ Co., only at Baconfest Michigan!
And now, we have Baconfest. Chicago has a Baconfest too. Theirs sells out in like two seconds because it's Chicago, la-dee-da. Ours sold out three weeks before the event without the help of major media sponsorship, paid advertising, or resting on our laurels. Our first-ever event will have 1,400 people and 37 restaurants and food vendors as well as all Michigan craft beers, wines, and spirits and signature drinks made with McClure's products. Chicago's is larger, yes, but it also benefits from having been around longer and, after witnessing how rabid our hometown bacon fanatics are, ours has the potential to be just as big. But there are a few ways in which our own Baconfest is already better, and you can see for yourself (if you were lucky enough to snag tickets) this Saturday, June 2. Or just read this list below, sign up for our newsletter and "like" our Facebook page, and get pumped for next year's event! (And don't dawdle buying tickets, either. Team Bacon is getting a little sick of the emails begging and/or haranguing us for tickets to a sold-out event. Which brings me to reason #1...)

Reason Our Baconfest is Better #1: Chicago's is a shitshow. Two and a half hours of absolute shitshowiness ensues during which time people get shitfaced drunk and restaurants more or less slingshot food samples at you as you as shit-facedly shitshow yourself past their booths. It's dumb. We realize that people are very upset about not being able to get tickets (PS, guys, SRSLY, sending nasty emails to the organizers is not an effective way to ensure yourself a pass - it's a good thing that it sold out, that was kind of the point. Better luck next year.), and while we could have pulled a Vodka Vodka and WAY oversold the event past capacity and crammed you all in there like cattle we actually want you to have a good time. You can thank us when you're actually able to walk around on Saturday. No no no, it's fine, YOU'RE WELCOME.

Reason Our Baconfest is Better #2: No pampered princess precious snowflake chefs crying about it afterwards. Our chefs are PUMPED, and they are bringing it. Even we couldn't have anticipated the excitement with which our hometown chefs are treating their Baconfest creations - it might as well be a bonafide competition. And restaurants aren't just half-assing their way through one dish - most places are serving multiple items, so while our restaurants are fewer in number we actually have MORE menu items than Chicago. So HA! And this leads to reason #3...

Reason Our Baconfest is Better #3: Unique creations utilizing many different kinds of bacon. Chicago's Baconfest bacon is all 100% Nueske's. And there is nothing inherently wrong with that. Nueske's has great bacon. But much like how when you go to California and EVERY restaurant serves Niman Ranch beef, the homogeneity just gets boring. Not only will we have an enormous variety of bacon (including vegan bacon! see #4), but many of our restaurants actually cut and smoke their own bacon in-house - so when you sample their bacon, you're actually sampling their bacon. The Root in White Lake, Terry B's in Dexter, Forest Grill in Birmingham, Toasted Oak in Novi, Lockhart's BBQ in Royal Oak, Grange Kitchen + Bar in Ann Arbor - these guys are so serious about bacon they make their own. Do the pampered princess precious snowflake Chicago chefs do that? Would I even be asking that question if the answer wasn't no? Additionally, most of the Chicago items are the restaurant's normal menu items with a strip of bacon on top - wholly uninventive and super-lame-o. The majority of our restaurants are making items totally unique to Baconfest. And we're the culinary inferior? Can I get a bitch please?

Reason Our Baconfest is Better #4: We are the first Baconfest in history to feature vegan bacon. You got a problem with that, you take it up with me. I fought for it because I truly believe that the vegan bacon at Seva (Ann Arbor and Detroit), made with toasted coconut, is outstanding. Don't knock it until you've tried it, and if you're going to be all pissy-pants about it don't eat it. See how easy that is? I felt that as a "Baconfest" we needed to include ALL forms of bacon - we already had tons of pork belly and prosciutto, plus turkey bacon and duck bacon are both being served. So why in the world would a festival celebrating ALL bacon not include vegan bacon as an option? This is NOT an effort to make the event vegan-friendly - obviously by its very nature it isn't - but to make meatatarians see that "vegan" is a five-letter word, not four. Open your minds, meatheads.

Detroit (and Michigan), stop apologizing and deferring everything to Chicago. Take pride in what you have! Find your inner celebrity chef and go tell precious snowflake Chicago you don't need it anymore!

And now, a few words from our sponsor (me):

(1) Scalping will NOT be tolerated. Don't be an asshole and ruin this for everyone else. We've worked very hard to ensure that tickets are fair and affordable; if you can't use your tickets we are more than happy to help you sell them at face value. But if you try to scalp them at three times your cost, I will come down on you like the Hammer of Thor. The thunder of my vengeance will echo through the fiberoptics of the information superhighway like the gust of a thousand winds.

(2) Want a pair of free VIP tickets? Stay tuned for the official contest announcement on Tuesday, May 29 on my Facebook page. Please note, THIS IS NOT GOING TO BE EASY. Cry to someone else.