Do you recognize this dude? I didn't. It's Top Chef season two winner Ilan Hall. He was the M.C. at the Tillamook macaroni and cheese grand finale cook-off I had the pleasure to help judge (along with the P.I'.s Rebekah Denn) in Portland last Thursday.
Six finalists from across the country took part in the contest: There was third place winner (and crowd favorite) Rhonda Allen from Lake Oswego, OR and her Tillamook mac & cheese chile relleno pie (which I am still salivating over).
Second place went to a woman from Rochester, NY who cooked up a very, uh, uniqe dish called triple play macaroni and six cheese strata which was not only topped with crumbled cheez-its, was garnished with them. You have to see it to believe it.
And the winner is....Angie Phillips from Tarzana, CA who made my favorite dish of the night, caramelized sweet potato, garlic and rosemary mac and cheese:
Actually, my favorite mac and cheese dish of the night was the one Ilan demonstrated. What's in it? Listen here
(There's also lots of garlic and cayenne pepper to give the dish heat).
And special props go out to our own Melissa LaCaille from Kirkland who placed fourth with her cornbread topped apple mac and cheese:
Eventually, all of the winning recipes will be posted here.
Ilan, if your interested, is finally opening his own restaurant in downtown L.A. early next year named "The Garbals," after the neighborhood in Scotland where his dad grew up.