Centre for Food third annual Epic Mac ‘n Cheese competition

Who doesn’t like macaroni and cheese? For many, it’s of one of the best comfort foods.  It was this dish, with a variety of ingredients that was at the heart of DC’s annual Epic Mac’n Cheese event.

Fifteen high school students in Grade 11 and 12 came out to participate in the third annual Epic Mac ‘n Cheese competition on April 8.

Chef and professor, Peter Lee who oversaw the event. He, says It’s a recruitment initiative at the W. Galen Weston Centre for Food in the Culinary Skills program. The faculty also likes to do community events, as they are involved with students.

The contestants started by going to each table choosing pasta, cheese, and meat they would use for their recipe.

Then the cooking started.  Each team was paired with a DC culinary student to assist with their creation. The different aromas in the air let you know you were in for a treat with their creativity.

Once cooking was done, the taste test began.  Each team was given a number and at each table a card displayed the ingredients in the mac ‘n cheese.

The audience sampled each recipe and voted.

As the sampling in the audience took place, people made comments like “creamy,” “tasty” and others resampling to make sure of who they voted for.

Sinclair Secondary School students Jordan Lyons and Rohmell Brown used a recipe with bacon, crab, cheddar cheese, pepper and chives.

Lyons would like to be a chef as she also cooks at home also.  Brown wanted to have the experience of working in a kitchen.

Team Six included Grade 12 students from Henry Street High School, Kacey Payne and Bailey Agnew. Both enjoy cooking and Payne will attend the Culinary Skills program in January next year. Their recipe included sausage, bacon, sautéed vegetables and Parmesan cheese.

Team Eight came all the way from York Region from Middlefield Collegiate Institute. Chandni Juma was the only one on her team. She loves cooking and took the offer presented to her by Chef Peter. She says she was glad for the opportunity.  Her recipe featured smoked mozzarella cheese, smoked duck breast, with broccoli and bell pepper

This year’s event had more than 150 taste testers, according to Kolleen Brunton, a professor in the Hospitality.  The tickets ran out and she had to start using her business card for tickets, writing “mac ‘n cheese “on the back.

An addition to this year’s competition was a pop-up bake shop.  This was the second year for this, hosted by the Advanced Bakery and Pastry Arts students.

The event had a big turnout, as there was a line up outside the pop-up shop before it opened.

Chef Tanya Heck, a professor in that program says it’s a capstone project.

“They work all semester to operate their own business, they also come up with marketing, business plan, budget and the food all the stuff that goes along with it,”  she says. There was a different arrangement of baked goods, jam preserves and bread.

The winner for the mac n cheese competition was Team Four Katelyn Gadejar and Griffin Vanwinden. The combination of goat cheese, sausage, roasted pepper, roasted garlic and chive was a winner with the crowd.