Many of the home cooks who've already entered recipes in the Seattle Cheese Festival's macaroni-and-cheese contest seem to have lost sight of the event's purpose, festival founder Pat McCarthy says.
"We're interested in cheese, rather than avocado, tomato and bacon," says McCarthy, co-owner of DeLaurenti's Food & Wine.
After a few years of conducting a grilled cheese contest in conjunction with the annual artisanal cheese extravaganza at Pike Place, "we'd seen it all," McCarthy says. So organizers shifted the contest's focus to mac-and-cheese, a dish that an extraordinary number of cooks believe they've mastered.
"Everyone thinks they've got the best recipe," McCarthy says.
For contest purposes, recipes must contain "readily available cheeses" and no more than six ingredients. It would be fine by McCarthy if the majority of them were dairy products. Many of the entries he's reviewed instead showcase turkey, chicken or roast beef. But thus far the most popular additives are heat and swine, McCarthy says.
"There's the wasabi mac-and-cheese, and there's the mac-and-cheese with pork," McCarthy says. "There's a whole section for those."
The contest winner will receive a $250 gift card from DeLaurenti's. Unlike in past years, he or she won't be required to prepare the recipe at the festival on May 19-20.
"We won't make them make it on the street," McCarthy promises. "We've had the grilled cheese guys do it, but mac-and-cheese would be insane."
Can you make a mean mac-and-cheese that isn't all about bacon? You have until tomorrow to submit your recipe.