The 2009 Tillamook Macaroni and Cheese Recipe Contest Finals were held last night in Portland, Oregon. Six home cooks from all over the country competed to win cash, prizes and, of course, Tillamook Cheese. Emcee Keegan Gerhard of Food Network Challenge presided over the festivities with an impressive 3 hour long sense of humor as the contestants cooked and the audience waited. In the end, though, there could only be one winner of $5,000 and a year's supply of Tillamook cheese...and Ann Jones - also a contestant in 2007 - took the prize. She was the People's Choice audience favorite as well, meaning she took home an extra $1,000. Nice going Ann!
In additional news, it was announced last night that this will be the last year of the Mac n' Cheese contest; Tillamook is phasing out its Mac n' Cheese promotion in favor of a grilled sandwich contest, which has evolved over the past few years as a much more popular application of cheddar cheese. Next year's contest finals will be a celebrity studded affair in LA....so time will tell how that works for the Tillamook brand.
Grand Prize Winner and People's Choice Winner: Ann Jones from Littleton, Colorado - Rustic Fried Sage and Chicken Apple Sausage Mac n Cheese with Autumn Chutney
First Runner up: Jamie Miller from Napa, California - Steakhouse Mac n Cheese with Spinach, Caramelized Shallots and Brioche Bread Crumbs
Second Runner up: Melanie Asher from Atlanta, Georgia - Chicken n' Waffles Mac & Cheese
For a complete list of finalists and recipes for all of their dishes (and those of past winners) see the contest website.