Remember how I was planning on going vegan for the month of April? Well, that was going pretty well until John got us tickets to the Mac & Cheese Takedown at Royal Palms. Unlimited mac and cheese… yeah, that’s pretty hard to turn down! Plus, isn’t the event poster awesome?
The Takedowns are a series of cooking events produced by Matt Timms. They’ve been around since 2003 and have expanded to major cities across the country. It’s not just for mac and cheese. They also do chili, fondue, curry, cookie, and ice cream takedowns!
Our $20 tickets allowed us to taste every mac and cheese entered in the contest. We could go back for seconds, but that was the last thing I wanted. I had 15 samples and was absolutely stuffed. It probably didn’t help that we had beer with our mac. Carbs on carbs on carbs!
If I had known about this event ahead of time, I would have seriously considered entering. Mac and cheese is my thing, but I’ve never cooked at this volume before. I imagine this event easily had 200-300 attendees, and that’s a lot of mouths to feed!
There are 25 entries total, and unfortunately, a few of them ran out of food early. We also had to pass on a few as they had contained meat. I’ll eat it if there’s just traces of meat, but I’d prefer to avoid any large, meaty chunks. There was one guy who came prepared with a second meat-free mac and cheese for vegetarians though.
My clear favorite was a mac with Italian cheeses and wild ramps. The cheeses complemented each other nicely. I can’t remember, but there may have been tiny traces of pancetta in there too. It was the only one I tasted that was topped with crispy breadcrumbs, which is, in my opinion, a must have for mac and cheese. There was also a smoky mac and cheese that I really enjoyed. The vegetarian nacho mac and cheese was really good too and the most creative.
At the end of the event, they announced the Judges’ Choice and People’s Choice winners. To be completely honest, I know that I tasted the winning dishes, but don’t remember them very well. Oops, sorry guys! It’s possible they were the entries with many cheeses, which were often too rich and overwhelming for my taste. That said, it’s challenging to prepare such a large quantity of food. Well done to all the home cooks that entered!