Sugarfire's Mike Johnson Is One of the Top Bacon Cooks in the Entire World

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Mike Johnson in the heat of competition. - COURTESY OF SUGARFIRE SMOKEHOUSE
  • Courtesy of Sugarfire Smokehouse
  • Mike Johnson in the heat of competition.

It's hard to go wrong with bacon — but it's also hard to be as good at cooking it as Sugarfire Smokehouse co-owner Mike Johnson.



Johnson proved he has what it takes this past weekend by finishing third in the whole wide world at bacon preparation at the Bacon World Food Championship in Kissimmee, Florida. The chef, whose small but growing chain of barbecue restaurants has won a huge following in St. Louis as well as national acclaim, cooked three different dishes: A cedar-planked bacon-crusted red snapper, bacon and dumplings, and a bacon taco with "bacon-fat-poached lobster and bacon-corn salsa."

We repeat: A bacon taco. With bacon-fat-poached lobster. How much would you pay to taste that thing?

It's not just us salivating; the judges gave that dish at 90.375 on a scale of 100, so you know it had to kick some serious ass.

Of the 50 competitors who traveled to Florida from all over, that was good enough to notch third place. (Stephen Coe of Plymouth, Massachusetts, took first.) We can only hope it was also good enough to get bacon on offer at Sugarfire. A spokeswoman for the barbecue chain says that, while there are no plans to add the winning dishes to the menu any time soon, "you never know what might show up on the specials' board!"

So, notch that up as another reason to visit Sugarfire. And if the bacon taco isn't on special the day you stop by? You would simply have no choice but to try again ... and again ... 

We welcome tips and feedback. Email the author at sarah.fenske@riverfronttimes.com

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