Spending a Sunday afternoon sampling a variety of mac and cheese chased down with a few Goose Island brews sounds like a darn good Sunday to me. That’s exactly how I spent a recent weekend at Time Out’s mac and cheese competition, The Mac Daddy.
This ultimate Sunday Funday was hosted at the Openhouse Gallery, a great, airy venue in SoHo. When I strolled up at the start of our designated time slot, a line was already down the block of eager patrons ready to eat their weight in cheese.
We were provided a punchcard to track which of the six mac and cheese varieties we had sampled, a glass for the beer, and an orange ping pong ball to cast our vote for which mac and cheese reigned supreme.
My friend Molly and I each grabbed a light beer and took a quick lap around the venue to survey our options. Each booth featured gregarious restauranteurs eager to pile on globs of the mac to our plates. We strategized and decided to get all six varieties at once and work our way through the plate.
The contenders were as follows: The Stand with a truffle mac & cheese, Almond Tribeca with Le Grande mac & cheese with prosciutto and truffles, FAME by Alex Mitow with “Return of the Mac,” Big Daddy’s with a corned beef hash mac, The Atwood with sweet peas, chile, and white cheddar, and EATS with a gouda mac.
I had arrived to the Mac Daddy after a quite decadent brunch so I could only muster a few bites of each offering. The judging was tough because all of the contenders had unique spins on the classic from the bread crumbs, cheese choices, and accouterments.
Molly’s favorite was the Le Grande mac and cheese by Almond Tribeca. She savored the crispy prosciutto and appreciated the simplicity of the dish, compared to other ornate servings.
My ultimate vote was for the gouda mac by EATS. The distinct, tangy gouda taste really rang true for this dish and made it stand out among the rest, especially since so many others highlighted truffles.
In the end, Atwood’s take on macaroni and cheese won the top prize. The gold medal was well-deserved; the sweet peas were a memorable touch to the dish and I always enjoy a healthy serving of chile.
If you missed the Mac Daddy, check out the upcoming Big Cheesy event on April 18th and 19th, where you can sample the top grilled cheese sandwiches in New York City. Buy tickets here.