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Published: Thursday, 10/4/2012 - Updated: 2 years ago

FINISHING TOUCHES

Bacon hogs limelight at fete by Owens culinary arts class

Not just for breakfast, it stars in main dishes, desserts

BY DANIEL NEMAN
BLADE FOOD EDITOR

In 1676, a planter named Nathaniel Bacon led an armed uprising against the Colony of Virginia over the colonial governor's refusal to lead raids against Indians. The bloody insurrection has come to be known as Bacon's Rebellion.

It may be the last time in American History that anyone had anything bad to say about bacon.

Bacon has become perhaps the nation's biggest current food fad, a theory put to the test Wednesday by a class of catering students in the culinary arts program at Owens Community College. They put on an event featuring bacon (and a couple of bacon-related meats) in an eye-popping array of innovative foods.

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Not that long ago, bacon was found only next to a couple of scrambled eggs. But it isn't just for breakfast anymore.

The students cooked and served bacon-wrapped water chestnuts in a barbecue sauce, and pineapple pinwheels — pastry dough filled with Canadian bacon, pineapple, and mozzarella cheese. They made pork belly sliders and pancetta bruschetta. And following the idea that salty foods go well with sweet ones, they put bacon in their desserts.

Their blondies, the brown-sugar version of brownies, were topped with peanut-butter frosting and candied bacon. The chocolate bacon cupcakes had bacon-cashew brittle and maple frosting — and the maple frosting was made partlywith fat from rendered pancetta for extra bacon flavor.

"I thought that was very creative," said Brandi Smith, sous chef at the Epic Buffet at the Hollywood Casino Toledo and a graduate of the Owens culinary arts program. She was also taken with the student-made decorations: roses made from rolled bacon on stems of chives with leaves of sage or basil.

Greg Brown, who was another of the 35 or so paying guests, said he came because of the bacon, which he called "one of the favorite food groups."

An Owens employee in institutional research, Mr. Brown found personal validation from the blondies with peanut-butter-and-bacon frosting. Ever since he was a child, he said, he has been eating wheat toast with peanut butter and bacon on it.

Second-year student Teri Easter makes a pork belly slider during a bacon-themed catered event Wednesday by the Culinary Arts students at Owens Community College. Second-year student Teri Easter makes a pork belly slider during a bacon-themed catered event Wednesday by the Culinary Arts students at Owens Community College.
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Gretchen Fayerweather, an assistant professor who teaches the catering class, said she believes bacon has its current allure "because it's the antithesis of healthy. It is the worst food we have easy access to. Plus, it's really good; salty and greasy. And it goes with everything."

Judy and John Robinson, who live near Tontogany, Ohio, came not just because of the bacon, they came for the third straight year because they enjoy the efforts of the catering students.

"The food is wonderful and it's a good way to try different things. … You feel like you're eating in a regular outside café," Mrs. Robinson said.

"I'm a connoisseur of good food, and you can't beat this food," said Mr. Robinson.

The students got to choose the meal's theme from a list prepared by Ms. Fayerweather. They picked bacon in part because October is National Pork Month.

According to one of the students, Teri Easter, the decision to pick bacon was easy.

"Who doesn't like bacon?" she said.

Contact Daniel Neman at: dneman@theblade.com or 419-724-6155.



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