Monday, November 18, 2013

4th Annual Mac Off Presented By The Claque

Competitors at the 4th Annual Mac Off presented by the claque

On Sunday, November 17, the claque presented its 4th annual Mac Off, a macaroni and cheese competition. Chefs (amateur, professional and passionate) presented their macaroni and cheese creations at Littlefield in Gowanus, Brooklyn. 

Attendees at The Mac Off tasted each entry (some more than once) and cast their ballots for the best mac-n-cheese dish. No cheese was off limits. And as it turned out, many of the add-ins that were once groundbreaking (bacon) were the more "usual" variations. The mac-n-cheese evolution is upon us.

Bacon Mac & Cheese (homemade bacon, Gruyere, mustard seed, caramelized onion)

I snapped photos while making my way through the sold-out, at-capacity crowd, filled and refilled my tasting cup, sipped (OK, guzzled) hard cider, struck up conversations and overheard lots more.

Punk'N Awesome (pumpkin, cheddar, pecorino, sage bechamel, cheddar pie crust crumble)

Overheard: It tastes like stuffing! It's mac and cheese but it's stuffing! I think she liked the pumpkin and sage bechamel.

Team Falltastic Mac & Billionaire Comfort Food

Overheard: You want one that has meat in it? There's f*cking ribs in this one!
Overheard: So far, for me I like number six. I like Brussels Sprouts. 

All that enthusiasm garnered Falltastic Mac creators Kristin Janssen and Tammy Wang a 3rd place finish. The version of Falltastic Mac entered into the competition (pumpkin, pumpkin-beer-braised short ribs and Brussels sprouts) was their 5th version of the recipe. Check out previous recipes on Tammy Wang's blog, Passionfruit Fashionista.

Billionaire Comfort Food station - First place winner of The Mac Off

Overheard: Holy shit. I can smell the truffle oil in this one. Smell this! 

Personal Chef, Teacher and Author, Mia Rut won first place with the Billionaire Comfort Food (duck bacon, kale chips and truffle salt).

Mia Rut | Billionaire Comfort Food | The Mac Off

Overheard: I hope the New York one sucks. Like I hope it's pretentious and just sucks.

Sorry dude-with-the-non-NY-accent, The New Yorker did not suck. It tied for third place. Sung Kim's creation included cream cheese, scallions and Everything bagel spices and had the longest line throughout the evening. Overheard: That was the most original -- I agree with that lady's assessment.

The #2 entry, Cheesus Christ Superstar, earned 2nd place

2nd Place winner, Brooke West serving her Cheesus Christ Superstar

Brooke West won second place with her dish, Cheesus Christ Superstar (sharp cheddar, double-cream Gouda, Pecorino, roasted garlic with bacon, friend onions and kale chips toppings). Tasters had the option to not have the bacon topping added. Why?

Team Manch

Mac & cheese or pot pie? 5 cheeses, bread crumbs, crushed pork rinds with
biscuits on the bottom.

Overheard: It's burnt. I think the word she was looking for was "smokey" Ah, well, not everyone's palate can discern subtle nuances.

Pacific Pesto (pesto cream sauce, shrimp, ginger, roasted garlic, Gouda,
Parmesan, Gruyere)

Pacific Pesto entry at the 4th Annual Mac Off

I'm partial to shrimp and spice in my mac and cheese. I also use Gouda quite often. So yes, I voted for Pacific Pesto (shrimp, ginger, Gouda, Parmesan, Gruyere), the number 12 entry, after much deliberation. I was torn between that, number 10 made with jalapeno, red pepper, Gouda, Asiago, cheddar with a Crawtator crust and the Cheese van der Rohe (a classic version made with sharp cheddar). I mean the classics can't be beat. Cheesy pasta goodness.

Jalapeno, red pepper, Gouda, Asiago, cheddar with a crawtator crust

Cheese van der Rohe - Mac and cheese I'd put my face in

Team Cheese van der Rohe.

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