Recap: Mac and Cheese Festival 2015

Nobody was prepared for just how much Torontonians love their Mac and Cheese. The lines were long at the first ever Mac and Cheese Festival as droves of people snaked around Liberty Market nonstop this weekend – there were lines to get the tokens and lines to get the goods. But once you got to the goods, it was worth the wait. Over 20 chefs were behind stalls ready to share their interpretation of the theme. Some chefs kept their dish traditional but packed with flavour, like William’s Landing’s creamy Lobster Mac and Cheese, Vespa Pizzeria’s red wine braised bistecca with fig glaze, and Mata’s Smoked Beef Cheek Mac.


Some added an ethnic twist, like Big E’s Hawaiian Mac Salad (refreshingly cold) with panko and pulled pork, and Bombay Street Food’s spicy Kheema (curried ground beef) topping.


Not only were vegetarian and gluten-free options abound, Nona even managed to create a vegan version – deep fried brown rice macaroni served with a creamy cashew based “cheese” sauce infused with garlic and Magic Bacon. Who said vegan had to be healthy?


There were also lots of Mac and Cheese sliders and plenty of fusion items – spring rolls (Grub), samosas (Holy Grill), and sushi (Cardinal Rule) to name a few.


Yet most surprisingly, quite a few made Mac and Cheese desserts – Art of Food brought tiramisu, H Bar had brownies, and Junk’d, H Bar and Cheesewerks all had ice-cream. The latter created a mind-blowing aged cheddar ice cream with roasted apple, caramelized onion, and maple bacon topping.


 

Having sampled almost all the dishes, it’s easy to say that the food at the Mac and Cheese Fest was top notch – and not at all boring or repetitive! Logistically, the organizers will have to make some changes – bigger venue and better line management, and more consistent token-pricing between shops, but what a great start to food festival season!

Check out some of the Mac and Cheese stand outs below:


 

Art of Food

“It’s the Wiener” | cannelloni pasta | crispy burnt cheese | ground beef

Cheesewerks

Aged cheddar ice cream | roasted apple | caramelized onions | maple bacon

Grub

“U-DON KNOW!” | bacon | udon noodles

Merenda

Arancini | mushrooms | truffle crema

SOCO

Short ribs | whiskey bbq/bone marrow sauce | blue cheese/herb crust