Students at the Des Moines Area Community College’s Iowa Culinary Institute are getting some big time experience today.
Audio: Dar Danielson’s report on bacon. 1:12.
The DMACC students will cook almost three tons of bacon that’ll be served up at the Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival on the grounds of the Iowa State Fair. Iowa Culinary Institute executive chef Robert Anderson says they were asked to cook about two tons of bacon for the festival last year and this year they’ll prepare around three tons. It’s a little more complicated than just bringing home the bacon and frying it up in a pan. Forty students will use 26 ovens.
“Which holds about 144 pans of bacon, so every 16 minutes we can pull out 144 pans and put in the next 144 pans,” Anderson says. “And we’ll be cooking bacon from eight in the morning until we get done, and last year we got done about eight o’clock at night.”
Anderson says they have to do constant testing to find the right way to prepare a variety of the pork products from around the U.S. and the world as each has its own characteristics. Anderson says it’s great experience for the students.
“All of them love to work with bacon, so working with different types of bacon. It’s just camaraderie, working in the kitchen, seeing some large quantity of food being prepared and seeing how it is stored and kept,” Anderson says. There’s also a lesson in planning that goes along with the preparation of the bacon.
“I have to assign certain instructors and students to certain ovens, and they have to do a lot of timing and management in turning around pans,” Anderson explains. The culinary program at DMACC (D-mack) has around 225 students. Anderson says the two-year program gives them skills to work in a variety of areas.
“They go to very nice clubs, very nice white tablecloth restaurants, they go to the newer and upscale assisted living places around Iowa and some in hospitals. So there’s a need for trained food service people who know a little about cooking and then can move up,” Anderson says. He says program currently has a two-year waiting list.
You can find out more about the Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival at: www.blueribbonbaconfestival.com.