WINDSOR, Vt. – A crisp fall day with plenty of sunshine is perfect weather when you’re about to taste 17 different versions of gourmet mac & cheese. That’s just what they got for the 6th annual Vermont Mac & Cheese Challenge this past Sunday, Sept. 9 when approximately 3,200 mac & cheese enthusiasts descended on Artisans Park in Windsor to taste, evaluate, and vote for their favorite version of the ultimate cheesy comfort food.
The Vermont Mac and Cheese Challenge, hosted by Vermont Farmstead Cheese Company, invites local chefs and restaurants each year to wow the crowd and a team of official judges as they vie for the top prizes. Categories include best vegetarian, best gluten-free, and kid’s choice as well as first, second, and third from the official panel of judges and first, second, and third for people’s choice. Bragging rights are at stake for sure but winning restaurants also receive a basket of goodies and, for the top prizes, cash awards and engraved cutting board plaques.
Food Blogger Graham Kist, one of the five official judges, had some tough decisions to make but was happy he had several categories to award. “The event really brought out the best in the cooks. You could see their passion, creativity, and skill, of course paired with some phenomenal cheese. I was glad of the different judging categories as it gave an opportunity for different styles to be showcased and appreciated. Can’t wait to come back next year.”
This year’s winners are:
Best Vegetarian: Bloods Catering & Party Rental
Best Gluten-Free: Omni Mount Washington Resort
Kids Choice: Blood’s Catering
People’s Choice: first, Blood’s Catering; second, Singleton’s General Store & Market; third, Lui Lui.
Judges Choice: first, Omni Mount Washington Resort; second, Sugar Bob’s Finest Kind Smoked Maple Syrup; third, Preston’s at Killington Grand.
In addition to the incredible mac & cheese dishes, add to the event Harpoon Brewery beer tents, live music from local favorite “Sensible Shoes,” petting zoo, games, wagon rides, additional food vendors, and a roller derby demonstration, and it made for an incredible day. According to VFCC Chief Operating Worker (COW), Kent Underwood, “We are so grateful to the fantastic group of chef’s and wonderful crowd that came out to make our Mac & Cheese Challenge such a success. We had a great time and look forward to the 7th annual challenge next year.”