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Posted August 10, 2015

Dairy? Oh yeah. Carbs? Mm hmm. Sodium, calories? Bring-them-on. This Saturday August 15, is the day you tell your diet to Mac-Off! The immensely popular gourmet Mac & Cheese Fest is back for its fourth year of fun at its home at the Avila Beach Golf Resort.

The Central Coast’s best restaurants, caterers, food trucks, and resorts compete for YOUR vote as they make their best version of what easily sits on top of the comfort-food chain…Mac & Cheese.

Past dishes include Paso Mac & Cheesesteak, Mac & Cheese Cabonara, Fried Mac & Cheese w/ Lobster, the list is random and endless. A couple dozen participants are in this year from all over the county, and all across the board. Names including The Cliffs Resort, Lido at Dolphin Bay, Sidecar of Slo, Hoagies of Pismo, Sycamore Springs Resort, Splash Café, Thomas Hill Organics, Jeffry’s Catering, Cass Winery, Olive Garden, and a lot more. This year, even a local school district is in the mix. Last year’s People’s Choice Champion, Chef Gregg Wangard is representing the Paso Robles Unified School District. He’s promised to throw the mac-down and warns fellow competitors, “Don’t try to ‘bake-and-take’ for this one…you need to make this mac & cheese at the event. Bring it.&rdquo

All the chefs that I’ve featured on either my Liquid Lunch Show (Krush 92.5), or Up & Adam in the Morning (Q104.5) have been tight lipped about what they plan on bringing to the big day. “I’ve got more than 5 kinds of cheeses in there, but I’m not going to tell you which ones,” says chef Kenny Toledo of Thomas Hill Organics. On a recent Liquid Lunch appearance, he let us taste what he’d be bringing to the event. It had small bites of pork cheeks, a little kick, and is definitely a contender. Hoagies of Pismo, who wouldn’t say exactly what they are cooking up either teased that if people know what they’re known for, they’ll have an idea what to expect. I have also heard that all recent champions, Chef Gregg Wangard (Paso Schools), Chef Jeffry Weisinger (Jeffry’s Catering), Chef Jacob Lovejoy (Cass) are all changing up their recipe, and coming with something totally different than ever before.

To wash down all this madness down, expect some popular central coast wine like Midnight Cellars, Sinor La-Vallee, Grey Wolf, Opolo, Castoro, and more. Beer drinkers will enjoy names like Firestone Walker, Barrelhouse, Good Medicine, among others. Sidecar will have spirits and will also feature cider from central coast cider pioneer, Bristol’s Cider House.

Folks are encouraged to bring blankets and low back chairs while they enjoy live music from rockers Mickey & The Motorcars & Reckless Kelly.

Perhaps the only thing better than consuming all this gourmet mac & cheese, is doing it for a good cause. This year’s event is proud to be benefiting the Woods Humane Society. I asked Steve Kragenbrink from Woods just how special this was, that another local event would choose to help Woods in their mission finding permanent and loving homes for needy dogs and cats, to which he replied, “There’s beer at this event, right?”

I am thrilled to once again host this year’s Mac & Cheese Fest with my Cork Dorks radio co-host Jeremy West. The stakes are high, and the responsibility is great because in addition to a People’s Choice Award, we also bestow a Cork Dorks Judges Award that will go to a special chef as well.
The 4th Annual Mac & Cheese Fest is this Saturday August 15, from 2p-6p at the Avila Beach Golf Resort. You can get tickets at www.TheMacAndCheeseFest.com

The annual Mac & Cheese Fest is an event put on by American General Media which owns radio stations Q104.5, The Krush 92.5, KZOZ, and 98.1 K-Jug.