2019 Speakers

This year’s Main Event lineup includes:

Allison ArevaloAllison Arevalo The Power of Pasta and Pork
Founder of Pasta Friday and author of The Pasta Friday Cookbook

“I am so excited to be a part of Camp Bacon because I am obsessed with Zingerman’s, and have been for years. It is truly a food paradise. Getting to speak at this event about my two favorite things – pasta and pork – is like a dream come true!”

We are excited to welcome the acclaimed cookbook author and former owner of Homeroom restaurant in California, Allison Arevalo. After being featured on The Food Network, The Cooking Channel, The Travel Channel, and more, she is bringing her pasta expertise to Ann Arbor! Guanciale, pancetta, and bacon all do magical things when cooked with your favorite pasta, but they are not the same! Find out why you would use one over the other, what pasta shapes pair best with each one, and how to master the magical combination of pork and pasta.


Camilo VelasquezCamilo Velasquez Tradition and Technology; Making Bacon in the 21st Century
Founder and co-curer at The Baconer in Oakland

“I can’t wait to nerd out on the world’s most delicious food with this gathering of bacon devotees. There is so much more to bacon than the generic strip, and this will be the perfect group to join me in discovering the limits of where bacon can go!”

It was a classic tale. Boy meets girl. Romance, marriage, kids, a voracious obsession with food…a bacon empire is born. Husband & wife team, Camilo Velasquez and Elisa Lewis, started up The Baconer in the Bay Area with one goal: Making really good bacon. This year, Camilo will talk to us about how bringing technology to a beloved traditional staple can be a touchy subject. Can newfangled gadgets make a product MORE artisanal, better crafted, or even more authentic? For The Baconer, the answer is YES! Find out how they do it, exclusively at Camp Bacon!


Steve McHughSteve McHugh The Tale of Two Mesquites
Chef at Cured restaurant in San Antonio, TX

“I love camping and bacon. Why would I not go?????”

Not only does Steve McHugh come from quite the culinary background, from the Culinary Institute of America to some of the most legendary kitchens in New Orleans, but the James Beard Award nominee has contributed his time to a number of causes. He fed FEMA workers after Hurricane Katrina, cooked for families displaced by the destructive fires of Central Texas, and as a lymphoma survivor, he is active with the South Central Texas Chapter of Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. He opened Cured in the revitalized Pearl District of Central Texas, where he uses the purest regional ingredients and organic methods to create lovingly handcrafted cured foods. His tale of two mesquites will lead us on an adventure of curing with mesquite powder and smoking with mesquite wood–and it ends with us getting to try it!


Susan SchwallieSusan Schwallie Baconless Bacon Chips and Other Oddities
Executive Director of the NPD Group and co-author of The Future of Dinner and The Future of Snacking studies.

“I mean, who doesn’t want to spend a day with awesome people and all things pork?!”

Susan brings 22 years of experience to her position of Executive Director of the NPD Group. Susan translates insights about how Americans eat into action for marketing, sales, category management and corporate strategy professionals. Most recently she co-authored The Future of Dinner and The Future of Snacking studies that predict how we will make dinner and use snack foods in 2023. Join her on a tour of 2019 food trends that are turning pork and other categories on their heads. 2019 marks her 5th appearance at Camp Bacon, which is her favorite speaking event of the year. Susan is a graduate of the University of Michigan and has a love of all things food.


Matt RomineMatt Romine Sustainable vs Substantive
Founder of Farm, Field and Table

“I am pumped to join this year’s group of pork prophets to share our experiences as butchers and chefs, with people who seek out the best quality food that they can find. Camp Bacon is much more than bacon—it’s tradition, culture, art, and love.”

After starting their first restaurant, The Mulefoot Gastropub, Matt and his twin brother, Michael, encountered quite a few challenges with sourcing Michigan-raised, non-GMO, grass-fed meat products. Their solution? Raise their own hogs and start a butcher shop. Farm Field Table in Ferndale, MI became their commitment to delivering local, healthy, quality meat for the country’s best restaurants at reasonable prices. We can’t wait to hear Matt talk about the quality behind their heritage pork!


Allan BentonAllan Benton The Beauty of Dry Cured Bacon
Founder of the award-winning Benton’s Smoky Mountain Country Hams in Madisonville, Tennessee

Benton’s Smoky Mountain Country Hams are produced using time-honored practices that date back to the era of our forefathers, when the preparation and preservation of meat was a way of life and sustenance. Their world-class hams and bacon are slow cured with salt, brown sugar, and sodium nitrate, then aged for 9–10 months. Allan will join us this year to talk more about this traditional method and how it is the best way to achieve the characteristic flavors of his gourmet pork products!


"Pork" Rhyne Cureton“Pork” Rhyne Cureton Being Black in Agriculture & Environmentalism
Agricultural Educator and Swine Specialist, Charlotte, North Carolina

“As a niche pork educator, I’m excited to speak at Camp Bacon! While here, I hope to build a bridge; a bridge that encompasses understanding and reflection as I share my thoughts as a minority in pig farming and environmentalism.”

Meet the future of organic leadership of progressive farming! Stemming from his love of animals and agriculture, Cureton attends North Carolina A&T State University as a senior agricultural education major with a concentration in extension and professional services. He also spent time in East Africa and volunteered with EATBETA, an organization focused on tackling rural unemployment and food shortage problems in sub-Saharan Africa while empowering rural farmers, especially women, with practical skills. In this session, “Pork” Rhyne will discuss his journey as an African American to become a domestic and international small farms swine educator and how he found his identity within the whiteness of agriculture.


Mei ZhangMei Zhang Travels Through Dali: With a Leg of Ham
Author of Travels Through Dali: With a Leg of Ham, and founder of Wild China

We are thrilled to welcome Mei Zhang at this year’s Camp Bacon! The Harvard Business School Alum founded her award-winning travel business, WildChina, after discovering that she has a passion for sustainable travel. Her concept to provide sophisticated interpretation of Chinese culture and nature through experiential travel has garnered her many awards and accolades, including Travel and Leisure’s “A-List of Top Travel Advisors”, Conde Nast Traveler’s “Top Travel Specialist”, and Wendy Perrin’s “#WOW List of Travel Experts.” Mei’s first book, Travels through Dali: With a Leg of Ham, is a beautifully illustrated chronicle of her return to her roots in search of the region’s unique traditions, culture, and cuisine.


Jeff RobertsJeff Roberts 30 Minutes of Bacon: A Brief History of Meat Preservation!
Author of Salted and Cured: Savoring the Culture, Heritage and Flavors of America’s Preserved Meats

“I’m privileged to join this year’s Camp Bacon. I intend to focus on bacon, charcuterie, and salumi as expressions of how our ancestors created delicious preserved meats that connect past and present food cultures.”

With his book, Salted and Cured: Savoring the Culture, Heritage, and Flavor of America’s Preserved Meats, Vermont author Jeffrey P. Roberts traces the origins of today’s American charcuterie, salumi, and other delights. In doing so, Roberts highlights the incredible stories of immigrant butchers, breeders, chefs, entrepreneurs, and other craftspeople who withstood the modern era’s push for bland, industrial food to produce not only delicious but culturally significant cured meats. He will pack decades of information in a 30-minute presentation that we can’t wait to hear!


Gabor BánfalviGabor Banfalvi 50 Shades of (Hungarian) Bacon
Co-founder of Taste Hungary Food Tours

“I’m excited to take part in any Zingerman’s event. And this will be my first time at Camp Bacon. For us Hungarians, bacon in all forms is a serious matter and a big part of our culinary heritage. I’m excited to share this with other bacon lovers.”

With their Taste Hungary Food Tours Business, Gábor and his wife, Carolyn, offer personalized and authentic food and wine tours, mainly in Hungary and Austria. They love to introduce visitors to the local foods and wines which they would not find on their own, and to the people who create these foods and wines. Gábor will talk to us about the dominating presence of pork in Hungarian cuisine, one of the old, grand cuisines of Europe that offers complex history and flavors.


Greg GunthorpGreg Gunthorp Building an integrated pasture pig business—production, processing, and marketing
Gunthorp Farms, LaGrange, Indiana

Starting out as a small pig farmer, raising his animals on pasture with no antibiotics, Greg and his team have always specialized in producing quality meat. Sustainably harvesting, processing and packaging themselves in their USDA-inspected plant ensures that quality. When he encountered struggles as a small farmer, Greg stubbornly refused to give up on four generations of pasture-raising just to stay competitive. He took matters into his own hands and cold-called Charlie Trotter’s restaurant in Chicago, who asked him for a whole hog…and the rest is history. Gunthorp Farms is now one of the largest pasture-raised animal operations in the country, and they are also one of the biggest representatives of sustainable agriculture.


Tony FiascheTony Fiasche Calabrian Pork Fest
Co-founder of Tempesta Market in Chicago, Illinois

Camp Bacon can’t wait to welcome Tony Fiasche, ‘nduja artisan and co-owner of Tempesta Market, a deli in Chicago. Dubbed the “Sausage Kings of Chicago” by Foodable, Tony and his father Agostino continue a tradition of five generations of Calabrian salumi-making. ‘Nduja is a spreadable salumi blended from Calabrian sweet and spicy peppers and pork, and the art of making it requires much balance. Tony’s ‘nduja and the award-winning artisan meats he crafts from humanely-raised heritage pigs are sold to fans and chefs all over the country! A deli-owner at a Zingerman’s event? We can’t wait!


John T. EdgeJohn T. Edge
Director of Southern Foodways Alliance and author of The Potlikker Papers: A Food History of the Modern South

This will be a very special 10th annual Camp Bacon indeed. We are thrilled to welcome the director of the Southern Foodways Alliance, an institute of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi, where he documents, studies, and explores the diverse food cultures of the American South. The SFA has completed more than 900 oral histories and 100 films of food professionals who might otherwise never be recognized. John T. Edge is also author and editor of over a dozen books about the American South, including The Potlikker Papers: A Food History of the Modern South, and writer and host for the television show, TrueSouth. This will be a one of a kind opportunity to hear the man behind the very company Camp Bacon was created to support.