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Industry Profile: George Gaspar and Sari Schiff of The Bacon Co.

By JEANETTE HURT
PHOTOS BY DAVID SZYMANSKI

Nov. 2017



Entrepreneurs and business partners Sari Schiff and George Gaspar were working on an international health care initiative when Schiff started telling Gaspar about these succulent, melt-in-your-mouth bacon sandwiches that were unlike any she had ever tasted ≠ó and how she thought they could bring them to Milwaukee. Instead of laughing the idea off, Gaspar joined in her enthusiasm, and soon a new business was born: The Bacon Co. Since earlier this year, theyíve been hosting pop-up dinners and events, gaining a cult following in Milwaukee. Schiff, who is due to give birth to her fourth child any day now, and Gaspar sat down to talk about all things bacon.
 

Where did you get this idea from?

Schiff: In Toronto, I was in the St. Lawrence Market, and they have butchers there. Itís sort of like our public market, and they cut these bacon sandwiches. I was there with my husband, and I said, ďOh, this is really good, but I think I can do this better.Ē I was in a business meeting with George, and I said, ďWhat do you think about this?Ē

Gaspar: I said, ďAbsolutely.Ē It was perfect timing. I was looking to do something in the food and beverage industry. She has a pretty extensive culinary background, and the two of us started tooling around in the kitchen in research and development mode, and thatís how we got where we are today.

Schiff: We tried two or three different cures, and we found one that works. It gives (the bacon) an amazing flavor and a great crust, and it holds its flavor when we cut it.

Gaspar: We looked at the whole process. We make all of our own mustard. We tried about 10 different types of bread and didnít find what we were looking for, so we sat down with Brian Miller of Miller Baking Co.

Schiff: He delivered it. Itís sort of a cross between a really substantial brioche and a Hawaiian roll, but it doesnít have that failure in taste and texture (that the other rolls did).
 

Tell us a bit about your culinary background.

Schiff: I went to chef school at The Art Institute (of) Fort Lauderdale after four years of college in Wisconsin. I cooked for different catering companies and restaurants. I donít think of myself as a foodie; I consider myself a foodologist. I study what people eat and what foods become foods of note. I think the hottest meat out there is bacon, not pork, and I donít think itís going anywhere.


Why is your bacon so different?

Gaspar: We take slab bacon, about 12 to 14 pounds each, and we have a proprietary cure, and we cure it, slow roast it, (and) slice by hand so theyíre thick pieces of bacon. Itís not like the bacon you think of at the brunch table ó itís like brisket. The fat just melts into the meat, so by the time weíre cutting it, itís got a very soft texture, and itís extremely flavorful.

Schiff: Itís been an interesting ride. We started trying things and doing surveys and getting peopleís feedback. People thought we should have a spicy mustard so we added that, and then we started working with the distillery, and we added a whiskey mustard. We keep adding a few things, and that keeps it fun. Itís not the same thing every time youíre there.
 

How did your testing turn into a business?

Gaspar: Dave Jurena, who owns The Soup Market, is a very dear friend of ours, and he just said to us, ďIf you ever want to use my kitchen and do a pop-up tasting for friends and family, let me know.Ē That was very generous of him, and we went in on a Saturday morning and started playing around with things. Then we moved over to Great Lakes Distillery to do another pop-up. Guy Rehorst is absolutely amazing, and we started doing these pop-ups. It really started as a silly conversation that then turned into a hobby, and now itís a full-blown company.

Schiff: Itís taken on a life of its own. We work really well together. George is an amazing administrator of getting things done, and Iím the ideas girl. Work has to be fun. And this bacon thing, we love what weíre doing.  Bacon is the light of my life. It is the baby before the baby comes.
 

Whatís next?

Schiff: Down the road, we might do a Tex-Mex kind of bacon or bacon hot dogs. We toy around with different ideas.

Gaspar: Right now weíre just going to continue with our pop-ups. Weíre looking at the potential for a brick and mortar (location), and weíre looking at a couple of other options. We just keep on keeping on,

feeding our customersí desire for bacon as we move forward.

To find out when the next pop-up event is visit www.thebaconco.com.







 

This story ran in the Nov. 2017 issue of: