Bacon and Beer Classic takes over USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center

Bacon and Beer Classic takes over USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center
Chef Melvin “Boots” Johnson prepares to smoke his own bacon.
Photo by Merle Exit
By Merle Exit

Wine and cheese have commonly been paired at events and restaurants, many of which have particular wines paired with certain cheeses. It is really up to the chef to match a cheese made with cow’s, sheep’s or goat’s milk with a wine made from grapes.

Cannonball Productions has a different food and beverage pairing with their nationally-touring Bacon and Beer Classic coming to Queens on Sept. 29 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center located in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

The all-inclusive experience was devised by 31-year-old Kate Levenstien, a lifetime foodie who is passionate about creating big, bold, one-of-a-kind experiences.

“I was living in Chicago planning events. While at a breakfast where I had a flight of bacon and thought how cool it would be to pair with craft beer,” said Levenstien. “We decided to pair food items containing bacon along with a beer. Bacon has become the ‘in food’. You can have bacon savory, sweet or spicy as well as simply a crispy topping.”

This year’s Bacon and Beer Classic is said to be the largest one yet, offering attendees a wide variety of new games and activities. Guests will also be given the opportunity to dance to live music, party in a biergarten, and compete in the Hormel bacon eating contest for the chance to win a year’s supply of free Black Label bacon. There are approximately 50-60 restaurants participating — each one responsible for providing its own bacon — along with 100 different breweries.

Although Hormel’s bacon will be featured, it is the responsibility of the restaurant to provide the bacon.

That’s no problem for Chef Melvin “Boots” Johnson, the owner of Queens Bully who will be making bacon in his smoker. “Boots” recently won Food Network’s Chopped Championship’s Grill Master competition.

“I use pork belly to create the bacon first, placing it in a brine,” Johnson explained. “The next step is to rub in the spices and let it smoke. It is a lengthy process but worth it. I would never use packaged bacon in any of my recipes.

Queens Bully is having Bayside Brewery, presently known as Fish Scale — located at 38-17 Bell Blvd. in Bayside — create a special beer to pair with a pastrami slider.

Some restaurants will be incorporating their bacon inspired food with beer, such as Route 66 Smokehouse — located in Manhattan — with its beer poached pork belly, crispy pork skin and spicy aioli.

BarBacon, a Manhattan restaurant that does not smoke their own bacon, will be offering its KF Bacon Bites of diced pieces of pork belly fried in a Kentucky batter. Bacon creations may not necessarily featured on the restaurant’s menu as the chefs have the opportunity to let their creative juices flow for the event.

Tickets for the Bacon and Beer Classic allow guests to sample bacon and beer throughout without ever taking out their wallets.

Guests can choose from three ticket types: General Admission, Power Hour, or VIP. General Admission tickets begin at $69 and could cost as much as $135 for the Afternoon VIP session. Limited Pre-Sale tickets will range in price from $59 for general admission to $125 for VIP.

There will be two sessions — one running from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. and the other lasting from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.

VIP and Power Hour ticket holders can enter the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center an hour early through an expedited line. VIPs will also enjoy access to a Premium Show Court and Arthur Ashe Stadium for courtside photo opportunities, three exclusive dishes not featured anywhere else, limited-edition craft beer, stadium seating, a donut wall, a pork belly tasting and more.

All tickets include a commemorative tasting glass and access to the Bacon and Beer Classic mobile app for vendor information, a stadium map, and more.

For more information visit www.baconandbeerclassic.com

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