Get your thinking caps on and start pondering all possible permutations of macaroni with cheese because the 2008 Tillamook Macaroni & Cheese Recipe Contest is officially underway! Submissions will be gathered and tested by a professional chef and narrowed down to six finalists, who will compete in Portland at the October cook-off finals. The prize? $5,000, 25 lbs of Tillamook cheese, and the glory of winning a cooking contest....not to mention the winner's sash (seen on last year's winner Lorie Roach, at right) and the glory of having your recipe spread far and wide across the land. Runners-up win $2,000 and 20 lbs of cheese, and $1,000 and 15lbs of cheese respectively.
One of the new features of the competition this year is the People's Choice Award. Once finalists are selected, Tillamook will post the six competing recipes later in the summer. Online voting will determine who wins the Award and $2,500 cash prize, which will be announced at the final cook-off.
Take a look at past winning recipes and contending recipes here....people have worked amazing magic with the humble combination of macaroni and cheese. One of my favorite contenders last year was Veronica Vichit-Vadakan's Autumn Comfort Mac, which combined butternut squash, pancetta, goat cheese and sage with macaroni and cheese to make an outstanding savory dish. 2007 title holder Lorie Roach took the prize with her Jumbo Shell Pasta stuffed with White Cheddar and Chicken, a tasty combination of pasta shells, shredded chicken and cheese. Other past contestants have combined mac n' cheese with such things as crab, truffles, ham and bacon in their quest for glory. So dust off that old favorite macaroni and cheese receipe you've been making (or contemplating making) for years....you may already be a winner! Deadline for submission is July 28, 2008 at 12:01AM, so you have plenty of time to test and taste your recipes. For more information, rules or to enter online, see the Tillamook Macaroni & Cheese website.