Saturday, August 8, 2015

2015 Motown Mac N' Cheese Cook Off

Sher Yip Mac & Cheese
Photo by Sher Yip

This second Motown Mac N' Cheese Cook Off brought out the cheesiest area competitors on Saturday, Aug. 8. Seven local restaurants - and two home cooks! - battled to see who had the best macaroni and cheese dish at the Morgantown Market Place Pavilion.

This year's event was a bit different from last year's. The judges (me, Gretchen Ross and Craig Behr) actually got our servings first in a kind of quickfire round, before the two different tasting sessions opened to the public. I'm super lucky to have the opportunity, and I was happy to be able to mingle with some friend after the judging. First was the home cooks. Then we got into the restaurants!

Home Cooks - There were two home cook entries this year in the new category. And both were really good! The first was a Southwest Mac & Jack, which had Monterey cheese and salsa and sausage and crushed tortilla chips on top. Quite tasty.

Sher Yip Mac & Cheese
Photo by Sher Yip
The second was "Millie Maxine's Sweet Southern Mac," which may have been the best macaroni and cheese I've ever had in my life. It had both shells and wagon wheel noodles in a super cheesy and slightly sweet creamy sauce. It was just incredible.

Motown Mac N Cheese Cook Off

Terra Cafe - Stuffed poblano southwest mac accompanied by a a mini local beef taco bowl and green chili avocado sauce. All locally sourced ingredients for this dish are from Possum Tail Farm and Round Right Farms. First off, can I say how much I love that I get a card that says what's in Terra's dishes? I LOVE that. Also, I love that they used local ingredients. Of all the macaroni and cheese dishes, I would say this one was the lightest tasting. I think maybe the chili avocado sauce added a bit of freshness? Not sure, but it just didn't feel as heavy or super rich as the others.

Sher Yip Mac & Cheese
Photo by Sher Yip
Sher Yip Mac & Cheese
Photo by Sher Yip
Hash Browns & New Grounds - Jalapeno gnocchi with grilled pepperoni, a red chili sauce, and a panko topping. Cody was the people's choice winner last year. And I was SO excited to have this dish this year! I had it when I visited him before, and it blew me away. It's delicious, as always. And that pepperoni? From Marino Brothers in Clarksburg!

Sher Yip Mac & Cheese
Photo by Sher Yip
Sher Yip Mac & Cheese
Photo by Sher Yip
Soul Brothers - Southern-style macaroni and cheese featuring a sweet cornbread and collard green garnish topped with fried chicken. This dish had colby and jack cheese and can actually be found on the menu daily at Soul Brothers - the only competitor that brought a dish regularly on their menu. This was one of my very favorites. I kept coming back to this, grabbing bits of sweet cornbread, with the salty chicken and creamy mac and cheese.

Sher Yip Mac & Cheese
Photo by Sher Yip
Sher Yip Mac & Cheese
Photo by Sher Yip
Tailpipes - Smoked gouda, bourbon bacon macaroni and cheese served on a toasted crostini. Tailpipes had one of my very favorite dishes last year with their take on the maki mac and cheese. I do love seeing them get to do stuff besides burgers, because they have some talented folks. I liked the addition of bacon, but I think had the grease been drained a bit better, it would've helped.
Sher Yip Mac & Cheese
Photo by Sher Yip
Iron Horse Tavern - Cheddar mac and cheese with jalapenos and roasted tomatillos, served in a bacon bowl. This dish is similar to what they serve in the restaurant, except instead of using their four-cheese blend, they went straight cheddar. It's similar to the version they served last year, but the bacon was on point for me this time around. It had just a hint of sweetness that balanced out the rich dish.

Sher Yip Mac & Cheese
Photo by Sher Yip
Regatta Bar & Grille - Short rib mac and cheese made with Sam Adams lager. Regatta had the best presentation by delivering the dish in these mini Le Creuset mini cocotte dishes. And they brought out the exact recipe on how to create it. You could really taste the beer, and it may have been the creamiest of the options.

Sher Yip Mac & Cheese
Photo by Sher Yip
Motown Mac N Cheese Cook Off

Motown Mac N Cheese Cook Off

Black Bear Burritos - Pesto mac-and-cheese made with Black Bear's famous queso and in-house local basil pesto with diced roma tomatoes. Black Bear included an ingredient list, which is totally awesome. You know exactly what you're getting. I'm also glad that Black Bear is really showcasing their talent - and that it can lie outside of just burritos. They're really proving themselves to be more than a burrito place.

Sher Yip Mac & Cheese
Photo by Sher Yip
WINNERS:
Judge's 1st Place - Soul Brothers
Judge's 1st Runner Up - Iron Horse Tavern
Judge's 2nd Place - Terra Cafe

People's Choice 1st Place - Soul Brothers
People's Choice 1st Runner Up - Hash Browns & New Grounds
People's Choice 2nd Place - Black Bear Burritos

Best in Show - Regatta
Home Cook - Darran Baldea with Millie Maxine's Sweet Southern Mac

Motown Mac N Cheese Cook Off

Motown Mac N Cheese Cook Off