What could be better than a room full of different varieties of mac and cheese? When it’s all for charity. And that’s what happened this Saturday when the O-Town MacDown returned this weekend to raise money for Give Kids the World.
We arrived at opening to get some shots of the various booths, but it wasn’t long before we were succumbing to the delicious smells and started to taste the samples. With over 40 booths participating, we had quite a few samples to try, and it wasn’t long before most of the booths had lines, including Outpost Neighborhood Kitchen.
There were two levels of judging. There were the official judges sampling each of the entries in the competiton, and then there was the People’s Choice decided by the rest of us by dropping a golden token in our favorite’s fish bowl.
There were a lot of good versions of mac and cheese, most based on the mac and cheese trinity of bacon, jalapenos, and mac and cheese. There were a few seafood versions, including Bubba Gump‘s shrimp and mac and cheese, and the chefs from Disney’s Port Orleans resort who brought a crawfish mac and cheese. Another notable was a chicken shwarma mac and cheese from Paramount Foods.
The most unusual offering was Tin Roof Orlando‘s S’mores Mac and Cheese, which featured marshmallows and chocolate mixed in with the mac and cheese with bacon. It was different but a bit too sweet for me.
My favorite was from Smokey Bones, featuring pulled pork on top of mac and cheese with your choice of sweet or spicy BBQ sauce drizzled on top (I mixed the two).
A close second was the uber-cheesy mac and cheese from last year’s winners, the Hard Rock Cafe. They also had the best presentation, serving up their samples in little plastic crock pots.
In addition to the mac and cheese samples, Chef Manny from Food Network did a food demo, and presenting sponsor Tom + Chee offered up some of their yummy menu for purchase.
There was also a live band, a stilt-walker dressed as a chef, face painting for the kids, and an artist sculpting live cheese art.
Give Kids the World had their mascots meeting the attendees, including Remy and Rugby, and Mayor and Mrs. Clayton. The little kids especially loved meeting them.
As the event ended, the winners were finally announced, and these restaurants and chefs took the following titles:
People’ Choice – Hard Rock and Chef Booth [pictured at the top of the article]
Restaurant 1st – Four Seasons Orlando with Ravello chefs
Restaurant 2nd – Outpost Neighborhood Kitchen
Restaurant 3rd – Hard Rock Orlando
Professional 1st – Richard West with Disney’s Swan and Dolphin
Professional 2nd – Leslie Sickler with Cabot Creamery
Professional 3rd – Jill Holland with Catering for Good
Wild Card – Joel Padilla with Platinum Chef
Congratulations to them all! I have to agree all of these were great mac and cheeses.
All proceeds from sales of the tickets to the event will go to Give Kids the World, a Central Florida non-profit organization which provides free stays to families with children suffering from terminal illnesses at their resort in Kissimmee.
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