Thursday, March 17, 2011

Nueske's cookoff finalist #5: Say cheese(cake)!

Nueske's cookoff finalist
Tyler Hall: bacon is his
cup of tea.
If there's one thing we really love about the surge in bacon love over the past few years, it's the creativity. People are finding all sorts of new ways to cook bacon, flavors to pair with it, and places to boldly go where no bacon has gone before. In the case of Tyler Hall's potentially prizewinning entry in the Nueske's Amateur Bacon Cookoff at Baconfest Chicago, the unexpected combination of savory meat, sweet sugar, and earthy flowers crash together in a crazy yet delightful way. Let's take a peek inside the mind that came up with Lavendar Vanilla Caramel Candied Bacon Cheesecake...

BDJ: How did you come up with this delicious idea?

Tyler: Inspiration from Lady Gaga's meat dress...seriously. I came up with the idea to do a bacon cheesecake with a friend who is the king of cheesecake, Matt Pettiti.  We ended up making five different cheesecakes: Mexican, Asian, Mae Ploy, Breakfast, and Lavender Vanilla.  The Lavender Vanilla Caramel Candied Cheesecake won out because of the flavors that we couldn't stop eating.

BDJ: Why do you love bacon?

Tyler: Bacon, of course, makes absolutely everything better. There are very few things that a good pork belly can't make better. I even gave my brother a pork belly to smoke for the holidays this year. Having been to both Baconfest and the Pro Bacon cook-off last year I've learned a lot about the versatility of the product and the respect you should have for it. Still wondering how bacon isn't considered King of umami?

BDJ: What's your favorite way to eat bacon (besides in this recipe, of course)?

Tyler Hall's Lavender Vanilla Caramel Candied Bacon
Tyler: I don't think there is just one way.  I think there are memories that I have when having bacon for the first time with my grandparents.  I remember having Bacon Lettuce and Tomato sandwiches where I subbed the tomato with cheese. I also remember lots of bacon and eggs.  Now I'm to the point where I'm putting bacon in Cheesecakes and really experimenting with bacon as a crisp fully cooked piece or a more manageable piece such as wrapped around a peach in a salad with goat cheese.

BDJ:  Why should you win?

Tyler: I believe I should win so can help spread the idea of bacon as something more. I take things that don't seem like they should go together and make them work.  To that end I hope to inspire others to make something unusual and take risks to make something great.

BDJ: Anything to add?

Good luck to the other Cylons and I can't wait to try your creations.

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