Five Trends From Mac & Cheese Fest: How to Recreate Them at Home

Mac and Cheese Recipes

Mac and Cheese Recipes

This past weekend, Wisconsin Cheese was a proud sponsor of the 2nd Annual Mac and Cheese Fest in Chicago. The jam-packed event featured two sessions of 50 local chefs serving up their best mac and cheese creations to a hungry cheese-loving crowd. The winner of each session went home with the coveted Golden Noodle award. A cheesy good time was had by all.

We were so inspired by the chefs’ variations that we can’t wait to incorporate some of their ideas into our own mac and cheese dishes. Here are the five top mac and cheese trends we spotted at the event and how you can recreate them at home.

Mac and Cheese Recipes

Cajun Shrimp Mac and Cheese

1. Seafood – That old rule that cheese and seafood don’t go together? Today’s chefs are throwing it out the window. We found proof in a Smoked Lobster Mac & Cheese Roll, Alaskan Red King Crab Mac & Cheese, Low Country Shrimp ‘n’ Mac, and a Cajun variation with a whopping seven cheeses, crawfish and turkey andouille sausage.

Make it at home:

Mac and Cheese Recipes

Blue Cheese and Brisket Mac

2. Beyond Bacon – Mac and cheese with bacon is a true classic, and we found plenty of it at the fest, but a lot of chefs also upped the ante with other hearty meat components. BBQ pulled pork was by far the most popular, but they also tried macaroni topped with braised short rib, baby back ribs and braised pork belly.

Make it at home:

Mac and Cheese Recipes

Mini Mac and Cheese Pot Pies

3. Macaroni Mashups – To stand out from the crowd, many chefs combined mac and cheese with other popular food items to create innovative food mashups. We saw mac and cheese on pizza, stuffed into Stromboli, served in waffle cups topped with fried chicken, and even whipped into a savory mac and cheesecake with bacon jam.

Make it at home:

Mac and cheese recipes

Spiced Apple Mac and Cheese

4. Sweet & Savory – A few chefs bet on the winning combination of sweet and savory flavors. For Auntie Dee’s Cupcakes & Desserts, this paid off in a big way. They took home a Golden Noodle for their Mac & Cheese Bread Pu’deesie – a combination of savory mac and cheese and sweet bread pudding. We also sampled Mac and Cheese Apple Pie, Hawaiian Mac and Cheese with pineapple and a Truffle Cauliflower Mac and Cheese with currants, pastry dough and miso butterscotch.

Make it at home:

Mac and cheese recipes

Kale Pesto Mac and Cheese

5. Seasonal Veggies – This may have been Mac and Cheese Fest, but we didn’t forget to eat our vegetables. It was easy to do with dishes like Smoked Tomato White Cheddar Mac with Crispy Kale, Chicken Tikka Mac & Cheese with Brussels Sprouts, and Pimento & Jalapeño Zucca with Sweet Potato Pimento Cheese.

Make it at home:

 

Visit All Things Mac and Cheese for even more great mac and cheese recipes and tips.

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