Interesting. Josh and I are watching the Food Network and all of a sudden, unexpectedly, Food Network Challenge comes on. What? I didn’t see advertisements for this.

Also, while I’m a huge fan of real, innovative macaroni and cheese, I’m not sure it’s Food Network Challenge worthy. I mean, lobster mac and cheese is still mac and cheese. We’ll see.
One of the competitors is the Delilah Winters, the girl that was beaten by Bobby Flay in the Macaroni’n’Cheese throwdown. The rest, I’d never seen before that I remembered. It should be an interesting competition, at least. For the first round, “Classic” they are requiring elbow macaroni, obviously, milk or cream, and cheddar cheese. This last might be an obstacle for one competitor who claimed that cheddar had “never touched” his macaroni.

Oops.

Anyway, so this particular competition I’m taking notes from, as we love real mac in this house. The different techniques and arguments are inherently interesting: lots of egg? (very southern) no egg? (How Yankee of you!) How many kinds of cheese? (Delilah, of course thinks that 8 is the only acceptable number) Which kinds of cheese? Thin or thick sauce?

We like our sauce middle of the road, no egg, and usually 4 cheese – sharp cheddar, cream cheese, mozz, and parm. However, Mac and Cheese is one of my favorite places to play, and sometimes we sub out the mozz for pepper jack and forget the Parmesan-ed breadcrumbs.

I loved the idea of boiling your noodles in the cream – not to add cream to the noodles, but to add starch to the cream – the girl that did this also substituted Cheese Nips instead of breadcrumbs. I love the thickener – not so much the cheese nips – but I’m excited to try the idea. Another gentleman adds bacon and corn to his “cakelike” casserole.

Someone else has pesto and creme fraiche – though she apparently made everyone else uncomfortable, since she was focused on her food. I have no problem with this, but I’m not sure if pesto is a bit much. But then, I didn’t see what all what into the pesto. Basil based? Artichoke heart based? It looked like basil, which I think would overpower the cheese.

Also, one of Delilah’s eight is Velveeta. Nice.

Judging on the first round seems to all fall under the same category. It’s too soupy, it’s too this, that….read: My gramma’s mac and cheese didn’t taste like this. Pout. What did they expect? You don’t bring out the old standard in a competition. You’re not looking to toe the line. I understand that corn and bacon doesn’t fit the “Classic” description, but the others are not that bad. Okay, pesto. But three of them were normal! The most traditional (Delilah’s) was the only one that got basically no complaints.

Surprisingly, Delilah, cheese nips, and Corn/Bacon managed to pull off a first place tie. I was almost confused, but you know. Judges can shock you.

The second round is Signature Mac and Cheese. Now is the time for anything (including non-elbow pastas, apparently) – and it looks like there isn’t actually going to be that much macaroni present. We have the Lobster Mac, yes, but beyond that I saw Roast Tomato Gnocchi and Lasagna Cheesecake. What?

I do like the Study of Mac and Cheese. A Cheddar Mac and Cheese soup, a goat cheese macaroni, and a cheese cake with a lasagna crust. That’s really cool.

Delilah’s didn’t seem to have any macaroni in it, but it was three courses. Lots of greens, though – mustard and collard and turnip greens. Not my cup of tea, but I’m sure the judges will appreciate that. Delilah and the study are both having trouble finishing, but both are feeling good about it.

The lobster macaroni and cheese actually fits that which is macaroni and cheese, made extravagant. I feel for that reason alone it deserves to win.

Melissa, with her pesto mac, made third. Second was Duske, wither her three course-macaroni and her “soupy” macaroni.

First? Frank! He had the lobster macaroni cheese, and he won! Hooray!

Our final thoughts on the whole competition were, however, that these people were very arrogant about their macaroni and cheese – it’s just macaroni and cheese! It is a spectacular place to showcase exotic tastes that you aren’t yet sure you’ll like, but really, it’s elbow macaroni. In sauce.

Come on, people.

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