Bacon Wizard is better known as Jasper Aykroyd.
Originally determined to become a blacksmith, he was thwarted by lack of apprenticeships but retained his artisan sensibilities as a master cellarman and later a chef. He still wears a leather apron however, and claims it helps him make better bacon.
Trained as a chef in 1997 by T.V. chef Darina Allen (Ballymaloe Cookery School in Co. Cork, Eire) Jasper spent a year working learning the oldest cures, recipes and techniques from his mentor in Shrewsbury, including those of Maynard Davis who he admires greatly. This provided the foundation on which much more in-depth knowledge has been built.
After doing so, Jasper advanced in kitchens until as a Michelin-rated head chef in Wiltshire he continued to advance his curing expertise to a new level, advising DEFRA on low-nitrate curing issues and performing research into the microbiology of curing.
Although he is one of the few chefs to successfully develop an independent organic product into supermarket shelves, Jasper is better known for his evangelism encouraging local and artisan producers (Alsitair Sawday’s Special Places award for Local, Seasonal and Organic Produce award)
In 2008 Jasper was invited by the Slow Food Movement to represent the UK as a chef delegate in Turin.
Jasper has run many curing courses ranging from hobbyist to expert.
He spent 2 years in secret experimentation at his Old Butchery during which time he re-discovered the oldest known starter-culture in curing during a field-trip to Israel, invented the "washed-rind" bacon, invented a method to make cooked artisan ham in just 36hrs, recreated ancient Roman Ham and produced many 2-year old hams with unique and superb qualities. Included in his own special recipes is the infamous Bloody Mary bacon, literally cured in a vat of the stuff!
He has since been a Judge at The Organic Good Food Awards 2009/10 where he finally managed to eat too much bacon (A lifelong ambition) and has advised on various books, newspaper articles, radio presentations etc.
He is currently engaged in developmental work for several high-street retail outlets and investigating a possible new technology for additive-free curing.