Sunday, May 11, 2014

Nothing cheesy about this Mac Daddy throwdown

The inaugural Mayor's Mac & Cheese Throwdown was a huge success.

Posted By on Sun, May 11, 2014 at 1:21 PM

The Winner: Judges choice from Holy Hog made with 5 cheeses and smoked veggies
  • Chip Weiner
  • The winner: Judges' choice from Holy Hog made with five cheeses,  topped with jalapeno pepper and filled with smoked veggies.
"I am an optimist, but I never expected this kind of crowd," said Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, looking at the hundreds of people who turned out for the first Mayor's Mac & Cheese Throwdown Saturday at Curtis Hixon Park in downtown Tampa. And crowded it was.Twenty-five restaurants were there to present their versions of this once-pedestrian side dish. There was also plenty of craft beer and wine, plus activities for kids.
The crowd wad larger than expected at the inaugural Mayors Mac and Cheese Throwdown
  • Chip Weiner
  • The crowd was larger than expected at the inaugural Mayor's Mac & Cheese Throwdown.
The area was divided into three different zones based on type of mac and cheese: Classic Mac (traditional versions with non-alcoholic drinks); Brews & Mac (recipes with a twist paired with beer sales); and Wine & Cheese (high-end cheeses with wine pairings).
udges Earnest Hooper, Greg Baker, and Ian Beckles  taste the winning entry from Holy Hog Barbecue
  • Chip Weiner
  • Judges Ernest Hooper, Greg Baker and Ian Beckles taste the winning entry from Holy Hog Barbecue.

The Refinery's executive chef Greg Baker, Tampa Bay Times columnist Ernest Hooper, and radio personality Ian Beckles judged the event. The grand prize winner was Holy Hog Barbecue, and the trophy was a giant fork with a plaque to honor the event. Honorable mentions went to the soon-to-open Ulele Restaurant and Mott & Hestor Deli. Ulele was also selected as the People's Choice, and Kids' Choice went to Flynn's Restaurant.

With 25 eateries competing there were bound to be some crazy combinations.

Yep thats a chunk of Krispy Kreme glazed doughnuts mixed with bacon in Splitsvilles version of mac and cheese
  • Chip Weiner
  • Yep, that's a Krispy Kreme glazed doughnut chunk mixed with bacon in Splitsville's version of mac and cheese.

click to enlarge Sonja and Will try Ducky's mac and cheese made with Ducky's beer, shallots, duck bacon and smoked gouda. - CHIP WEINER
  • Chip Weiner
  • Sonja and Will try Ducky's mac and cheese made with Ducky's beer, shallots, duck bacon and smoked gouda.

click to enlarge Sail Pavilion's mac and cheese made with cheddar, cream cheese and mozzarella, with tomato jam of apricots, dates and figs, smoked pulled pork and corn relish. (This reporter's favorite.) - CHIP WEINER
  • Chip Weiner
  • Sail Pavilion's mac and cheese made with cheddar, cream cheese and mozzarella, with tomato jam of apricots, dates and figs, smoked pulled pork and corn relish. (This reporter's favorite.)

click to enlarge Ulele's sous chef Kelly Fletcher mixes up another batch of their People's Choice Award winning Blue Crab Beer Cheese Mac - CHIP WEINER
  • Chip Weiner
  • Ulele's sous chef Kelly Fletcher mixes up another batch of their People's Choice Award winning Blue Crab Beer Cheese Mac

Mayor Buckhorn raises the mac and cheese grand prize trophy while his family looks on
  • Chip Weiner
  • Mayor Buckhorn announces the winners and raises the mac and cheese grand prize trophy while his family looks on.
The inagural winner of the Mayors Mac and Cheese Throwdown was Holu Hof Barbecue pictured are Libor Vitu, owner Danny Hernandez, and Flaco Alverez
  • Chip Weiner
  • The inaugural winner of the Mayor's Mac & Cheese Throwdown was Holy Hog Barbecue. Pictured are Libor Vitu, owner Danny Hernandez and Flaco Alvarez.
click to enlarge By 7 p.m. food was running out even though the event was scheduled to run until 10. Next year, if you go, go early! - CHIP WEINER
  • Chip Weiner
  • By 7 p.m. food was running out even though the event was scheduled to run until 10. Next year, if you go, go early!

Proceeds from the mac and cheese sales went to Friends of the Riverwalk.

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