Six contestants battled today for an enviable prize - $5,000, a whole lot of cheese, and the thrill of winning the third annual Tillamook Mac & Cheese Recipe Contest. Local radio personalities Dr. Doug and Skippy emceed (keeping the crowd distracted) as contestants prepared, plated and served their recipes to thirteen judges including Oregonian columnists Sara Perry and Gerry Frank, local food writer Nancy Rommelmann and Christine Hyatt, Portland's own Cheese Chick.
The recipes were diverse and definitely NOT your average, everyday Mac n' Cheese. Contestants combined M+C with a variety of interesting accompaniments like smoked salmon, shrimp, chicken and seafood. I didn't get to try them all, but the ones I was able to sample were impressive. Portland regional finalist Veronica Vichit-Vadakan, who made my pesonal favorite version with butternut squash and sage, even brought her own cheering section to the event. For more about each regional finalist (there were 6 in all) and recipes, see the 2007 contest page here.
Eventual winner Lorie Roach, a finalist last year, took the prize with her Jumbo Shell Pasta Stuffed with Baby White Cheddar and Chicken Macaroni - or as she described it, "pasta stuffed with pasta" - using one of my favorite of the Tillamook varieties, the aged white cheddar. Lorie ascended to the finals from the Texas regional event, though she hails from Mississippi. She goes home with the cash, the sash and the glory this year - will you be next?