Today we get on a plane and leave for Las Vegas to compete in the 2014 World Food Championships in the bacon division. We’ll be competing against over 350 other teams across 9 divisions: BBQ, Chili, Burger, Dessert, Sandwich, Bacon, Recipe, Pasta, and Seafood. It’s a mix of professional and amateur teams, with each team having won a contest or event to be here, so it’s going to be some tough competition.
We’ll be cooking in round 1 on Thursday against over 40 other bacon teams, and we’ll have about 2 hours to do 2 dishes: our choice of a signature dish, and then a dish that has to fit into the theme of bacon and egg brunch. If we make it to the top 10 on Thursday, then we move on to Saturday where we cook a corn and bacon dish against the rest of the top 10, with a chance to win up to $10,000 and be the Bacon World Champion. If we win, then we also cook again on Tuesday against all the other category winners, for the chance to be World Food Champion and win $100,000!
So how did we get here? I found out about this competition through friends of ours in the BBQ competition circles that had competed at it last year. When we decided to start the Meat wagon this year, I knew we’d be focusing on bacon, and thought it’d be cool to see how our bacon dishes stack up against the rest. I also saw it as a great way to get some exposure for our food business, especially since the whole competition is being filmed for a reality TV show. Not that I’d ever want to really be on TV, but hey – more exposure for our food business will make it easier to do what I really want to do: cook!
I looked at the qualifying competitions for the World Food Championships and found that there were 2 that were close to us – the Bacon Championship at the Roc City Ribfest, and the Canadian National Bacon Championships. We entered both competitions, but the first one was right after we started the cart, and between that and scheduling issues, I ended up going down by myself with hardly any practice or well-developed dishes, and ended up finishing in the middle of the pack. The good news is that friends of ours in the team Delivering Smoke ended up winning, and will be joining us in Vegas!
The next and last chance we had to qualify was the Canadian National Bacon Championships. This time I made sure that Jeannie would be able to come help me, and I made sure that I spent lots of time working on my dishes and doing a full timeline test of each one. Our preparation paid off, and everything went really smoothly during cooking (other than forgetting an ingredient), and we won the competition. Our prize was an entry into the World Food Championships and some money to help cover the costs of getting there, which is good, because we’re trying to put everything towards the truck for next year.
I’ve been working on my recipes over the last couple of months, and have done full tests of everything over the last couple of weeks. The testing process started with rough versions of each dish, then trying variations of each component until I found the combinations that I think will do well. Each dish has to have bacon as the star, and it has to taste great, but also look great. With competitions there’s also the fact that it can be 10-20 minutes before the judges eat your food after you turn it in, so you also have to know how it holds up and not just how it is freshly cooked. I’ve got a big printed out plan with everything we need to get there, everything we need to prep, and the schedule for everything that needs to be cooked.
We’re nervous and we’re excited, but no matter what happens, we know that we’ve prepared well, that our dishes are good, and that we’ll do the best we can. We’re also looking forward to hanging out in Vegas and checking out some of the local food trucks. Won’t be gambling much since our $ is going to the truck, but it’ll be great to wander and explore and hang out with some of the other Canadian teams that we know!
Wish us luck!