In a looming pandemic, a young, small bacon business didn’t seem to have much of a chance when many restaurants became permanently closed or were required to have dramatically reduced seating. Baker’s Bacon owner Tony Baker took a different approach to his reopening.
With food shows and in-person sales meetings canceled for over a year, Chef Tony took an out-of-the-ordinary approach to getting back to business. Tony and wife Tara purchased a 2021 Winnebago Revel adventure van, aptly re-named the “Baconbago”, with the intent of driving to each of their distribution partners around the country to host tastings, pop-ups, and sales meetings in person.
The Baker’s had only 6 weeks in hand to modify the “Baconbago” customizing the RV for the specific needs of a pair of bacon cooking road warriors. Some of the necessary culinary modifications included a large Dometic 12v cooler (enough for at least 100 sample packs of porcine goodness installed on glides with storage underneath), a rack for two folding tables, and a rear door mounted custom box to hold a propane griddle that, at the time of writing, has cooked several hundred pounds of bacon. The Baker’s also added a stereo upgrade, 4×4 Suspension, a winch upgrade, off-road lighting, roof-mounted storage, and solar panels.
On May 2nd, 2021, the pair plus their K9 companion Porky (@wheres.porky) the cavalier/poodle mix, got on the road from Marina, CA (the Baker’s Bacon headquarters). The trip started with a visit to Lake Tahoe, Reno NV, and Truckee, where the team set up at multiple locations to host chefs, restauranteurs, as well as some members of the public, in bacon education and tasting events.
From Truckee, the trio took off to Death Valley for a couple of days of R&R taking off-road trails in the desert, then starting the trek across the country. A question often asked, “why pick one of the smallest RV’s on the market, a Sprinter Van??” Tony has been riding adventure motorcycles for about 25 years, riding the unbeaten path, looking for the roads less traveled. This trip seemed like an extension of that lifestyle that could accomplish his work goals while sharing some incredible experiences with his wife Tara of 24 years and lil-ole Porky in the small space.
The Baconbago has seen a mix of dispersed camping on BLM, forestry roads, state parks, RV parks, Hotels, and of course their favorite, Harvest Hosts. “The stories, the new life-long relationships, and new experiences we have had as a result of joining Harvest Hosts has been one of my favorite elements of the van lifestyle.”
Their most recent Harvest Hosts experience was near Bird in Hand, PA at Kauffman Farms.
“Upon arrival, the farm was hosting a bird banding event with a representative from the PA Fish and Game. They banded 3 young barn owls, it was a unique and fantastic experience, one that you simply would not get with any other form of accommodation. In addition, the hosts were amazing, and the area was beautiful. We felt good by offering a small donation to the birding program in the spirit of Harvest Hosts. This location was about a half-mile from the family store which was awesome and one that provided us with dinner that night. This is one of 14 Harvest Hosts locations we have stayed at so far and all have been fantastic for different reasons. We have yet to be forced to sleep in a big box store parking lot, thanks to Harvest Hosts!!!
The people we have met from this trip have been incredible, the culture of the RV community, specifically the Harvest Hosts community has been amazing. We have met with two families now after our Harvest Hosts stays. We have dined with our van life neighbors, pooling our food and sharing what we had. The camaraderie was great, we will see them again for sure, probably at another Harvest Hosts location.
Harvest Hosts is helping our bottom line, we could not afford this trip if we had to stay in hotels or pay increasing tariffs at RV parks every night for three months.
We are in PA and heading east, working our way down the coast to Miami, FL where the working part of our trip will take a pause until later this year. Our next leg of the #Baconbago adventure will hit Texas, Arizona, San Diego, Los Angeles, and the California Central Coast.”
Check out bakersbacon.com to see where the Baker’s are now.
Chef Tony Baker Bio:
Tony Baker is the Founder and Creator of Baker’s Bacon. Bacon the way it’s supposed to be. Executive Chef Tony Baker began his career in England before making the jump to the states in 1994 as part of the Downtown Dining Group. For over 25 years, Chef Tony was the executive chef at Montrio Bistro in Monterey, California. During his tenure at Montrio, Tony demonstrated his commitment to sustainable ingredients and local purveyors. Montrio is consistently voted “Best Restaurant in Monterey” by local readers’ polls. Chef Tony can also often be found offering up his talents for local causes and community events.
Unable to find bacon that met his high standards for freshness and ingredients, Chef Tony Baker founded his own brand in 2011. The goal was and is to make real bacon – Bacon The Way It’s Supposed To Be!
Chef Tony’s awards and accolades are extensive including the United Fresh Produce Excellence award in fine dining, the American Culinary Federation’s 2018 Chef of the Year award, Edible Magazine’s Chef of the Year, and many others. Tony has also been a guest chef for multiple events including Obsession at Northcote Manor and the prestigious Pebble Beach Food & Wine. He, his wife Tara, and dog Porky are proud owners of a Sprinter Van.
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