Mac n' Cheese Throwdown: The Results Are In

Seven local chefs duked it out for bragging rights and small plastic trophies at the second annual Mac n' Cheese Throwdown last night in Scottsdale. In a partnership with the American Cheese Society (cheese made in America, not American cheese -- an important distinction!), the event was also a celebration of the first-ever American Cheese Month.

The favorite dish of both judges and voters was hand-rolled duck confit mac n' cheese from 5th and Wine's Chef Mike Bowen.

Get the rest of the results after the jump!

My personal favorite dish, a braised short rib mac n' cheese topped with lemon and chive panko from HotDish Inc's Joel La Tondress came in a respectable third place. After six servings of cheese and noodles, the lemon was a perfect and welcome way to cleanse the flavor palette.

Cafe ZuZu's Sean Currid took second place with his lobster and shrimp mac n' cheese. I found it to be an underwhelming submission from last year's champ, I also spoke to a diner who said she got pieces of shrimp shell in her portion...

Other highlights included a Peking-inspired version from Chef Eric O'Neil of Smart Kitchen and Desert Smoke owner Tony Moralez's fried balls of cheesy goodness.

While each submissions had its merits, no one took any real creative chances -- although bonus points do go to 5th and Wine's mac for perfect pasta execution. 

Many of the submissions included an impressive number of mix-ins but unfortunately given the small portion sizes, the simpler versions tended to fare better with tasters. With so much going on in such a small portion, it seemed difficult for the chefs to maintain balance in their dishes.

Proceeds from the event went to the American Cheese Society to encourage artisan cheese makers and support cheese education in the states. All the cheeses used in the submissions came from cheese makers in America and were donated by the creameries. Find a list of sponsors here.

Next up for a throw down? The pancake. We'll keep our fingers crossed for some sweet potato flapjacks and savory griddlecakes.

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Lauren Saria
Contact: Lauren Saria