St. Louis Baconfest 2013: Steve Interviews Matt Willer and Matt Guillot, Yearns for Bacon
From Small Beginnings…
The first project was a relatively amateur endeavor that Willer and Guillot achieved thanks to their own dedication and the help from their kickball team. Soon, bacon became the focal point of their thoughts. They renamed their kickball team Team Bacon, and as Willer proudly pointed out, “We even rented a pig to be our mascot one game.”
Spending their own hard-earned cash, converting a few donated barrels into a smoker, they achieved their goal, but the accomplishment taught them a few valuable lessons.
“The smoker was crap; it was terrible,” Willer explained. “We took barrels, cut them in half, bolted them together. It was functional technically, but the heat distribution inside was way off. So you’d have parts that were cooked more than others.”
Guillot went on to explain the team was never able to get the temperature above 165 degrees. “We didn’t have openings to fuel the coal to keep it hot…if we would have had openings for oxygen to flow in and keep the coals burning, it would have been fine.” Still, they plowed ahead, and the end result was bacon for everyone. Basking in the success of the 120lb. Hog Log, Willer and Guillot dared to think bigger. The result is an event that’s been a year in the making. After calculating the cost of their first endeavor, they quickly realized if they were to pull this off, they’d need some help, both with publicity and financially. As Guillot’s sister had interned at a local radio station, they were the first objective. “Our first thought was to get KSHE (94.7 FM) on board,” Guillot said. “We just thought basically, let’s get KSHE there…”
“They thought it was a prank,” Willer added, explaining that they didn’t take Guillot seriously when he called in representing Baconfest. Once everything got straightened out, though, KSHE came fully on board, which got the ball rolling with other sponsors.
John Johnson, executive chef at Hotel Lumiere, will be supplying the meat as well as overseeing the smoking process. To achieve the world record Hog Log, Vatterott College offered to build the 50′ smoker, which is now believed to be the largest barbecue pit in St. Louis.