Writer Lara Piu
Photographer Sharon Kreiger and Joanna Fiorentino

[dropcap]L[/dropcap]ike a big bear hug from your favorite grandma, mac and cheese is all about comfort. This month, Scottsdale will celebrate America’s most beloved comfort food at the first soon-to-be-annual Mac and Cheese Fest held along Scottsdale Waterfront.

“Americans love mac and cheese,” Sharon Krieger, the festival’s public relations director explains. “The dish consistently comes up as a favorite across all ages and demographics.”

Held October 7, the one-day celebration will be the first of its kind. Event goers will be able to choose among more than 25 mac and cheese recipe samples provided by more than 20 restaurants, contestants and vendors throughout the Valley.

And there’s a chance for lay mac and cheese folks to participate too.

“The art of making a killer mac and cheese isn’t just for professionals,” Sharon explains. “This beloved dish holds such significance and treasured memories because of how it all began for most of us—at home.”

Driven by demand, the festival will challenge Valley adult and child home chefs to compete in its Home Chef S’Mac Down competition.

“When we announced the festival, we had so many home chefs reach out to us to see if they could participate with a booth, which is why we added the Mac and Cheese Home Chef S’Mac Down. It is open for both big and little ‘cheeses’ to compete with their own homemade recipes,” Sharon explains.

The competition began in September when participants qualified through a YouTube-based contest. Local food bloggers served as judges, deciding who advanced to the festival competition. On the day of the festival, the top three Big Cheese and Little Cheese chefs will enter their mouth-watering mac and cheese dishes for the final competition. Look for them on the big stage inside the demo tent October 7. 

In addition to bragging rights and celebrity status, the grand prize winner in each category will be awarded the prestigious Golden Noodle trophy, as well as a prize package valued at $500. 

Gates open at noon and close at 7 p.m. General admission tickets are available for $15 and tasting and drink tickets are sold separately. VIP tickets can be purchased for $75 and include a private VIP lounge and private restroom access, early admission, five drink tickets and 15 mac and cheese sampling tickets.