Chefs battle for Golden Noodle trophy at Mac and Cheese Fest

Allen Wallace photos.

Some say macaroni and cheese is the ultimate comfort food. Sunday in Columbia, 10 local chefs proved the familiar dish can also be a delicacy.

The chefs competed for the Golden Noodle trophy and a cash prize at the inaugural Mac & Cheese Cookoff & Festival at Jamil Temple, organized by Ashley’s Yummy Tummy Catering. They offered up a wide variety of twists on the basics, and nothing on the menu came out of a blue box.

“I had no idea you could do so much with just mac and cheese,” said Chris Davis as he sampled one of the dishes. “I guess it’s proof it’s hard to do it wrong, though, because all these are really good.”

From Doko Smoke Barbecue’s brisket mac and cheese to even more exotic creations like the Big Philly from Ally’s Creative Cooking (steak, bell peppers and caramelized onions in a creamy pepper jack sauce), the chefs had something for every palate.

Those who think of pizza as a comfort food to rank alongside mac and cheese found a dream come true thanks to the Touchdown, by Culinary Korner’s Cooking, a dish combining the two favorites by layering mac and cheese with marinara sauce and topping it all with pepperoni.

“I guess some people think mac and cheese is a side dish, but they’re wrong,” said Nikki Ramirez with a laugh. “Sometimes it’s all you need and this is proof.”

The event drew a sold-out crowd, proving the eternal popularity of mac and cheese. Ashley’s Yummy Tummy plans to bring back the competition in 2020 and organize other food festivals as well.

Information about upcoming events will be posted on the Ashley’s Yummy Tummy Facebook page.

Categories: Arts & Entertainment, Columbia, Richland County