Attending two different mac n cheese competitions in Brooklyn within four months is quite the privilege.
Matt Timms’ recent “Mac n Cheeze Takedown” on Sunday, March 23rd in Gowanus, Brooklyn was an expectedly awesome afternoon. This two-hour event at the Bell House far surpassed the expectations set by the “Mac-Off,” a similar, annual concept from The Claque that saw its fourth year this past November. While there are numerous other “Takedowns” in Brooklyn (and across the country, in fact), I believe this was Timms’ first endeavor of the cheesy pasta variety.
The Takedown boasted exactly thirty different twists on the ultimate comfort food prepared by enthusiastic, creative chefs throughout Brooklyn. The $15 tickets quickly sold out online, but those speedy enough were given paper plates and utensils, free drinks, and the paramount responsibility to crown the winning concoction. There were also seasoned judges (Steve Seaubry, NYC Hot Sauce Expo, and Derrick Prince, Born to Braise Hell) tasked with electing a victor of their own.
The general public, comprised of roughly three hundred eaters, picked Roasted Poblano and Smoked Bacon Mac (Willy Steigman), Cheddar, Gruyere, Apple, Fig, and Onion Mac (Mike Leahy), and Onion and Capers Mac (Ted and Linsey Case Hayes) as their top three, respectively. Judges chose Alpine Mac (Andrew Gottlieb), Steigman’s creation noted above, and Macadilly Slap You Silly (Trace Cambell)–granting an honorable mention to Nacho Mama’s Mac (Ashley Zelinskie and Patrick Delaney). The proud winners received various cooking supplies they will hopefully use to reproduce their creations!
Although as a vegetarian, my viewpoint is skewed, my favorites included a couple of the winners (Leahy’s and Zelinskie/Delaney’s), and My Big Fat Greek Mac (Athena Pappas). Originality was abound, and everyone around me seemed to thoroughly enjoy conducting taste tests as I did. While the main room must’ve neared capacity, there was overflow into the front room where there was additional space and seating.
Free cocktails (from 2-3PM, with additional drinks available for purchase from 3-4PM) helped cleanse the palate in between rounds. I piled my plate pretty high of small plastic tasting cups, devouring about half of the contenders before returning to tackle the rest (and retrieve second helpings of my favorites). There was no shortage of food nor flavor, and I hope this Takedown becomes routine each year!