Mac and Cheese Throw Down!Got a phone call a few weeks ago from one of our staff members, Chef Danielle; it seems that at a recent chefs gathering a debate ensued over who makes the best Mac and Cheese. They declared a throw down and invited me as one of the guest judges.

What a great idea! It is a fun activity for this upcoming long holiday weekend with family and friends with wonderful themes like Mac and Cheese, best stuffing, best leftover dish, soups, pies, breads that are either sweet or savory. You can pick almost anything in the culinary world to start a throw down.

Sunday, I trekked to Ridley Park to the home of Trish and Ed; the setting was great! Everyone was gathered in the kitchen, naturally, to be the first to see what was going to come out of the oven next.

There were 6 contestants and they made different versions of Mac and Cheese, everything from Betty Crocker’s traditional recipe to sweetened versions made with ricotta cheese. Most used elbow shaped macaroni; Chef Danielle used the fusili/rotini shape.

After trying all 6 it was clear to me who the winner was, contestant #3, Chef Ed Vadden, and let me tell you why…He used mezze (half) rigatoni shaped pasta that was cooked perfectly al dente and held a lot of the delectable and creamy cheese sauce. His combination of cheeses included English and Italian mild cheddar cheeses, Pecorino peppato, goat cheese and mascarpone which he added cream and seasoned with salt and pepper, velvety sauce. He was the winner hands down.

Chef Ed took a few minutes to chat with me after his win. He started cooking with his grandmother. His grandmother made him cook with her to keep him out of trouble, thank you grandma! He is a graduate of the prestigious Johnson and Wales Culinary School and has worked at some pretty amazing places like The Four Seasons, Brasserie Perrier and The Rose Tattoo Cafe. Nowadays you can find him at Ace Club in LaFayette Hill, Pennsylvania.

I should have taken home some extra, it is the day after, 8am to be exact and I am craving that Mac and Cheese so much! I just had to call Chef Ed and ask him to share his decadent Mac and Cheese recipe. Click here for the recipe!

Some guidelines for your ultimate throw down event:

1) Have each contestant cook their entry at home and bring it to the event already prepared.

2) Have enough disposable chaffing trays to keep food warm and label them with the contestant’s number.

3) Use different colored pasta as your point system, example: orange pasta is worth 3 points, green pasta is worth 2 points and beige pasta is worth 1 point.

Enjoy and have a very Happy Thanksgiving from the Staff of Taste 4 Travel!