Local News

Thursday, Mar 27 2014 12:11 PM

'First Look': Restaurants promote Mac and Cheese festival

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    Macaroni and cheese is the topic of the day as "First Look with Scott Cox" host Scott Cox, left, talks about the culinary delight with Alejandro Ocampo of Camino Real and Tina Johnson of J's Place.

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    "First Look with Scott Cox" host Scott Cox, left, talks about macaroni and cheese with Michael Harmon of Rocket Shop Cafe, center, and John Pilling of Steak & Grape.

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    With its deep-fried macaroni and cheese bites, Rocket Shop Cafe is only one of two participants at the Bakersfield Macaroni and Cheese Festival that will serve easily portable dishes.

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    Steak and Grape macaroni and cheese one.

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    Steak and Grape macaroni and cheese.

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    Camino Real relleno macaroni and cheese.

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    Camino Real relleno macaroni and cheese.

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    Mama's mac and cheese from J's Place is made with a lot of love, according to co-owner Tina Johnson.

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By THE BAKERSFIELD CALIFORNIAN

Do you dream about comforting mac 'n' cheese? You can wake up and enjoy plenty of the mouthwatering dish at the first Macaroni and Cheese Festival on April 12 at Cal State Bakersfield.

Sixteen local restaurants will dish up their best mac 'n' cheese recipes for locals to judge, giving prizes to the top three chefs.

Thursday on "First Look with Scott Cox," four of those restaurants whipped up their special "winning" mac 'n' cheese dishes for simulcast host Scott Cox to taste.

First up was Michael Harmon of Rocket Shop Cafe with a chicken fried mac 'n' cheese. Yes, you read right. It's deep-fried mac 'n' cheese breaded in what would be used to bread chicken.

"This is delicious," Cox said as he took a bite of the cafe's newest menu item.

Scooping a spoonful of the newest three-cheese mac 'n' cheese from Steak & Grape, brought in by Chef John Pilling, Cox said he could taste the difference the pepper jack cheese added to the dish.

But the spicy kick in the pepper jack cheese dish was nothing compared to the habanero purree Cox added on top of Camino Real's chile relleno-inspired mac 'n' cheese.

"It's hot," Cox said as his face turned red. "It's inappropriately hot."

But the habanero purree is not part of the mac 'n' cheese, chef Alejandro Ocampo made clear, so there is no need to be scared of the restaurant's exclusive creation.

Finally, the extremely creamy mac 'n' cheese from J's Place, brought in by Tina Johnson, made Cox feel like he was at home.

"It's comfort food," he said.

 

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