How Chicago Restaurants Could Cope with the Coming Bacon Shortage

Upton Sinclair must be smiling.

There’s word going around from the European Union that pig herds everywhere are “declining at a significant rate,” which means, basically, we could have a bacon shortage on our hands and mouths by next year.

Obviously, this would negatively impact the restaurant industry here if it comes to bacony fruition. Have you heard of Baconfest? It’s an annual bacchanalia of bacon that got off the ground here a couple years ago and even though Organizer Seth Zurer told CBS that “even if there’s a bacon shortage or bacon gets expensive, there will be plenty of bacon to go around at Baconfest.”

Still. What if there’s not?

You guys, what if there’s not enough bacon?

Some restaurants could consider bacon substitutes, but let's be honest. 

“There’s no true substitute for bacon,” said Valeria Benner, the sous chef at Lockwood Restaurant. “However, there are things one can do to mimic bacon's effect on the palette.”

Smoked turkey legs can mimic its flavor, according to Sepia Chef Andrew Zimmerman. But, as he says “there’s just nothing that compares to bacon.”

At some point, getting too creative or fussy is just silly. It’s akin to going to a raw of vegan restaurant and acting like the “meat loaf” is actually meat loaf.

“I agree. There is no substitute for bacon,” said Doug Sohn, owner of Hot Doug’s. “It’s gonna be a real interesting winter and spring… it’s not just bacon and beef. We’re all just waiting for the hammer to fall.”

Sohn also added that modifying menus already is a little premature and his restaurant isn’t even discussing it yet.

But if you’ve got your heart set on serving something like bacon, Scott Walton, chef at Markethouse, suggests curing duck bacon. At least, that’s what he does.

On the other hand, maybe a bacon shortage isn’t the worst thing to happen. The bacon mania lately has been getting a little out of hand, no?

David Wolinsky is a freelance writer and a lifelong Chicagoan. In addition to currently serving as an interviewer-writer for Adult Swim, he's also a comedy-writing instructor for Second City. He was the Chicago city editor for The Onion A.V. Club where he provided in-depth daily coverage of this city's bustling arts/entertainment scene for half a decade. When not playing video games for work he's thinking of dashing out to Chicago Diner, Pizano's, or Yummy Yummy. His first career aspirations were to be a game-show host.

Contact Us