Food, Food Artisans

Looking Back at Camp Bacon 2014

A brief review of this years Camp Bacon Main Event

This past weekend, the Camp Bacon 2014 Main Event kicked off its first year at Cornman Farms, and we couldn’t have asked for a nicer day!

The festivities were held in the Farm’s historic barn, which dates from 1834. Last summer, the barn was dismantled and transported to Burbank, Ohio where barnwright Rudy Christian restored the original timbers and beams. Afterward, the barn was reassembled on a new foundation, and updated for events and special dinners. Our Campers were among the first to experience the barn in its new role as a dining space.


The Main Event started with introductions by Zingerman’s co-founder, Ari Weinzweig, and Camp Director, Joanie Hales. They were followed by Mary Beth Lasseter, of the Southern Foodways Alliance, who talked about the SFA’s mission to document, study, and celebrate the diverse food cultures of the changing American South. Camp Bacon is a benefit for the SFA.


The program began with Susan Schwallie of the consumer market research firm, NDP Group, who provided some very illuminating statistics about our general food and bacon consumption in the U.S.


Next up were Steve and Kirsty Carre of Swanbourne Market in Western Australia. They talked about pork and ham trends Down Under, and showed us slides of beautiful beaches of Western Australia (watch out for sharks!). The Carres also shared their Christmas ham recipe, which involves plenty of Guinness beer!


Cristiano Creminelli then took the microphone and talked about his journey from learning the centuries-old family art of meat curing in Northern Italy, to bringing and making handmade Salumi in Utah.




After Cristiano spoke, guests were treated to a short film by in-house SFA filmmaker Joe York titled “Cured” about traditional ham and bacon maker, Allan Benton.

Following the film, Ari interviewed the Lucinda Williams of country ham, Nancy Newsom, whose family has been curing ham for over 400 years! Nancy talked about the history of her family’s business, and her own process for curing country ham.


Greenhills School Chemistry instructor, Bob Ause and student assistant, Hayden, gave us a science lesson demonstrating how to make soap using bacon fat. Get clean and smell tasty! One of the many great uses for bacon…


Ham I Am’s Director of Operations, Meghan Meehan, shared the humble beginnings of the company began by her mother, Sharon Meehan.  Back in the early days, Sharon delivered hams from her family’s white Volkswagon Rabbit. Now, Ham I Am regularly ships out 20 tons of ham and 40 tons of turkey each holiday season!


Just before lunch, Zingerman’s Roadhouse Chef Alex Young stepped in to talk about the menu, which included a very special Zingerman’s Cornman Farms ham.  The ham came from one of Cornman Farms’ own hogs, and was brined for 60 days prior to smoking. Forty-eight hours before Camp Bacon, Chef Alex moved it into the farm smokehouse (built in 1888), where it absorbed the sweet smoky aroma of cherry wood. The effort and attention to detail paid off, and Campers were treated to a delicious, tender, traditionally made ham for lunch. After the meal, Campers went on a short walking tour of the farm led by Chef Alex.


Alex Cornman Ham





Once the tour was over, Ari interviewed Bob and Tanya Nueske about their multi-generational cured meat business based in Wisconsin. The Nueskes ancestors came to Wisconsin in the late 1880’s, bringing with them old-world skills of smoking and curing meat. In 1933, during the height of the Depression family patriarch R.C. Neuske decided to market his own smoked bacon, sausage, turkeys and hams in rural Wisconsin, and a legend was born.


Next up, Tobin Ludwig of Hella Bitters stepped up to help shake off the mid-afternoon drowsiness with his variation on the classic Old Fashioned cocktail. The drink was made with a special edition bacon bitters, and the drinks were well received by the audience.




Zingerman’s Bakehouse partner Amy Emberling was next, and talked about the differences that various fats can make during the baking process. Amy shared three piecrust samples with Campers, then invited them to guess which were made with vegetable shortening, butter, or bacon fat.


Finally, cleanup speaker John U. Bacon took the microphone to talk about his career starting as a sports reporter at the old Ann Arbor News, and moving into writing books such as Three and Out, Bo’s Lasting Lessons, and Fourth and Long.  John entertained Campers with the trials and tribulations of carrying the name Bacon through this world.



At the end of the day, Ari fittingly wrapped things up with a quote from John Maynard’s Adventures of a Bacon Curer. A fine tribute to a day filled with bacon.



See you at Camp Bacon 2015!