John is a senior reporter at the Bay of Plenty Times

Kiwi Mike Jeffries reveals the secret story of spreadable bacon

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Spreadable bacon cooked up in a Papamoa kitchen is taking New Zealand by storm after former truck driver turned barbecue king Mike Jeffries stumbled on a winning idea.

"It's really taken off, I'm quite overwhelmed," he said.

Mr Jeffries was enjoying the hospitality of Americans at a bourbon, beer and barbecue festival last year when a jar of bacon jam grabbed his attention.

• Scroll down to watch the Herald's taste test

It tasted good enough to convince him that he could find a market back home for this seemingly unlikely spread.

Mr Jeffries started experimenting with ingredients including maple syrup, coffee, onions and a generous quantity of bacon.

"It took a few goes, the guy did not give me his recipe."

The release of Big Smoke BBQ's version of bacon jam was given a massive boost when it was put to the taste test on TV's prime-time show Seven Sharp.

It also featured as product of the week in New Zealand's restaurant and cafe industry newsletter.

All of sudden a dribble of sales turned into a torrent, so much so that when Mr Jeffries was not busy catering for functions using his custom-made barbecues, he is cooking up his meat rubs, barbecue sauce and bacon jam.

His bacon jam is handmade in batches of 300 to 400 jars a day - even the labels are painstakingly applied by hand.

Interest has flooded in from all over New Zealand and as far afield as the United States, with the number of suggested uses growing each day.

Mr Jeffries likes it with burgers, cheese toasties, pancakes and as a topping for bacon and eggs.

"It is different from anything else on the market as far as I am aware."

The unlikely location for the manufacturing side of business was the registered kitchen in the sports and recreation centre on Gordon Spratt Reserve.

Tauranga chef Peter Blakeway said he would give bacon jam a go. "It sounds fun."

He said all sorts of interesting stuff was going on in the field of molecular gastronomy.

The idea was to change diners' perception of what they were eating and to fool their eyes.

It had led to things like scrambled egg icecream.

The other big thing was mash-up cooking - putting products together that had not been combined before - like a danish pastry and donut: a donish.

Bacon icecream, like bacon jam, fell into this new way of thinking about food. Pig meat was quite sweet, which was why bacon combined well with toppings like maple syrup.

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