A new nickname

A newspaper clipping on display at the Hatfield processing plant near Allentown, Pa.

A newspaper clipping on display at the Hatfield processing plant near Allentown, Pa.

During discussions, workshops and networking opportunities during a three-day conference for camp foodservice professionals (and amateurs like me) this week, I became known for three things: Trying to be resourceful, not having a lot of money to spend and something that actually combines both of those traits — something that spawned a new nickname.

Bacon Fat Bill.

If you’ve read this blog for the last year, you already read my defense of bacon fat. I save it, substituting some of it for butter (when no vegetarians are present) for the roux base in macaroni and cheese, sauteing vegetables and other things where a subtle, smoky pork flavor is welcome. The only complaints have been health-releated (for which I have an answer.)

So where’s the nickname come from?

In between workshops, food shows and group discussions, I got to know all of the other food service directors and cooks pretty well, and joined two of them for an outing to Cabela’s. In the car, we discussed “the worst dishes” we prepare. In truth, little of what we cook is truly “bad” for you, so I figured my mac and cheese fit the bill. And I explained the bacon fat.

I think the others in the car were mildly intrigued by that use. But when the story got retold later in the day, it was met with amusement. And suddenly, I was Bacon Fat Bill.

Come to think of it, I think I was the only one to get a nickname.

But those three days strengthened my defense of bacon.

First, I appreciated the chance to see the product made at the Hatfield plant. There was no  funny business, no surprises — nothing that would change my mind about serving it to guests. (Deli-style ham is another issue that I’ll take up in a few days.)

Second, I was surprised to hear how many of my colleagues use the abomination known as precooked bacon, generally for reasons of practicality. To feed 150 people, I have to cook bacon nonstop for two hours. Other camps are serving it for 500. I’m thankful to have the space, the equipment and the time to make fresh bacon, and make it in abundance.


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