Monday, October 24, 2011

"Mac" Off Jack!!!

Charleston SC has arguably some of the best chefs and restaurants in the United States, if not the World. To illustrate consider the bragging list currently reads something about like this:

1- Husk Restaurant Bon Appetit magazine Best New Restaurant of The Year September 2011
2- 2008, 2009, 2010 “Best Chef Southest” James Beard Award(
3- 2008, 2009 "Best Rising Star Chef" Awarded to Sean Brock of Husk Restaurant Charleston
4- Anthony Bourdain tabbed Charleston as "One of the Most Underrated Food Towns In America"

And I must dutifully inform you that by no means is this an exhaustive list since the primary purpose of this expose is not necessarily to promote Charleston as a food destination, although it is. No at the risk or misleading you, the reader, my emphasis on Charleston as an all out mecca for foodies is simply to establish that when it comes to food, good food, one can confidently say that the chefs and restaurants in Charleston are major leaguers.

Having said that, you might be surprised to find out that some of the most famous and critically acclaimed chefs and restaurants in the world will be pulling out all of the stops next week in a cook-off that will determine, are you ready for this? The best Macaroni and Cheese in the Holy City. That is a lot of attention and importance to be commanded by a dish so simple and comforting as "mac-n-cheese." But, in the South, there are few dishes that occupy the designation of being a "southern staple" any more than mac-n-cheese. Oh sure, there are plenty of foods that are labeled as "Southern" and I know, people all over the Country, if not the World consume the cheesy casserole, but I didn't say it was exclusively Southern. I will say that Southerners approach their "mac-n-cheese" from an entirely different perspective though. For instance, at Thanksgiving, while turkey is king all over the U.S.A. including the South, the familiarly cheesy tureen occupies a spot right alongside ol' Tom Turkey on most Southern sideboards. Back in 2007, when we were "new" transplants to the Lowcountry, my wife took a very informal survey of her first-graders at Berkeley Elementary School asking them what was their favorite aspect of Thanksgiving Dinner. Mac-n-Cheese was the overwhelming first choice. She laughed all the way home from Moncks Corner that day to tell me that her kids all think that Macaroni and Cheese is a Thanksgiving dish. Later that evening, we went to a pre-Thanksgiving potluck at our church, yep, you guessed it, ummmm, the baked and extra cheesy kind. So for the past 3 years at our home in White Gables, we have included along with the local oysters in the stuffing, a nice big casserole of baked Mac-n-Cheese.

So, if you are in town this weekend and looking for something fun to do, check out the Charleston Mac-Off at the Charleston Visitors Center Bus Shed Friday October 28th from 7pm-11pm. Live entertainment, samples from each competitor and the chance to have a say in The Best Mac & Cheese in The Holy City. Enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. If you go, I'd recommend going when it opens. I went last year and by the time things got going you could barely move. Luckily I ate fast and well!


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