Reflections on a Year’s Supply of Bacon

by Jen Wanous

Bacon changed my life.

It’s not often we’re handed pivotal moments on a platter… but one fateful day, one year ago, I won the Bacon Takedown of New York City. This set me on an irreversible path of culinary adventure.

I took the competition with my California-inspired concoction of goat’s milk avocado ice cream topped with candied bacon and sea salt. It was an ode to my home state and my favorite animal product, pork. I was an underdog novice and didn’t think I’d stand a chance against the reigning champ and fresh, fried bacon doughnuts. With a bright pink t-shirt proclaiming, “Bacon is the New Black,” in iron-on letters, I wowed the bulk of the 300 tasters who voted my dish their favorite against 22 others.

Part of my prize was a year’s supply of bacon, which quickly became my ingredient du resistance for the next 12 months. Dinner parties, potlucks, cupcakes and even Christmas stockings were tinged with the good grace of bacon. However, more than an endless supply of the rich pork product, I received an invitation to actualize my long-coveted dream of becoming a chef: the win was the universe saying, “Cook! Like, for real!”

Just after the competition, I remember sitting on the subway… coming home from my job managing events… still high from the thrill of the win… and I thought, If this one thing can bring me so much joy, I’ve gotta go for it! What was I waiting for?

I listened to the message. Just one month after the takedown I resigned from my job; 60 days after that I started culinary school. Now, after a 12-month whirlwind, my business card says, “Freelance Chef.” I love how life sends signals. I got it, loud and clear.

Today, at the annual event, I handed over my crown and sat in as an expert judge. It was an honor to be back in that role, tasked with deciphering which dish was most quintessentially bacon. The competition was stiff but I swooned for a bacon-wrapped s’more. It was the perfect salty pairing for this camping classic.

Navigating the world now, I know I’m one step further along the path of actualizing myself because I had the courage to listen to my heart (and the universe). The path isn’t always clear or easy, but it unveils many gifts along the way (some in the form of a BLT). I will anticipate the signs I know must lay ahead… trusting their returns will be just as savory.

I have included the recipe from my auspicious creation below. Enjoy.

Baco Avo Goat-Lato

(serves six)

Goat’s Milk Avocado Ice Cream

3 cups goat’s milk

1 cup goat’s yogurt

1 cup sugar

3-4 avocados

1 pinch sea salt


Combine all ingredients until smooth in a blender. Chill in the refrigerator until 40 degrees. Set according to your ice cream maker’s settings (about 15 minutes).

Candied Bacon Topping

1 pound bacon

1 cup dark brown sugar

Fresh ground black pepper

Pinch of coarse sea salt


Set oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cover bacon with brown sugar and pepper. Place on baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes (until a yummy-looking caramel dark brown color). Let cool and then chop.

Top the ice cream with the bacon topping and add a generous pinch of coarse sea salt.

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