Hey UTSG, it’s that time of year once again!

Strike a pose and say cheese, because it’s time for our annual Mac & Cheese Smackdown!

Yes, you heard correctly, the Mac is back, so put this amazing event in your calendar and bring your appetite with you on Thursday, September 28 at Willcocks Commons from 11:30 AM -1:30 PM and it’s just $5 for your ballot (one ballot entitles you to four samples and a vote on the champion).

Four of our incredibly talented campus Chefs will once again compete against each other, each with their own unique version of Mac & Cheese, in pursuit of the title of Mac & Cheese Champion 2017. All Chefs have come up with their own, original recipes that are required to have a local food component.

We sat down recently with all the competitors in order to give you the inside scoop on what to expect at the big competition.

Chef James Piggot, Executive Chef, Executive Chef, Residential Dinning, New College, will be working on a dish a little more evolved from just regular Mac & Cheese.  He’s making a “Baked Mac & Chesagana”.

“My dish is unique because it’s a play on Baked Mac & Cheese and Lasagne (kind of paying homage to the old style hamburger helper dishes). We’re using local Ontario ground beef from VG Meats and local vegetables for the bolognaise sauce,” he says.

Chef James says that Chef Jaco is his biggest competition because of the sheer number of times he has won the competition.

Chef Suman Roy, Executive Chef, Retail Operations, says that his Mac & Cheese blends the very best of two unique cuisines.

“I will be blending the flavours of Butter Chicken, from Indian cuisine-my own cultural heritage, with cheese curds-a signature element of Canadian cuisine which is my new love,” he says.

The cheese curds are from Black River Farms and the milk is from Harmony Dairy. Chef Suman says that that he sees Chef Eddie as his toughest competition.

“I’m going to keep my eyes on Chef Eddie, but in reality, all the Chefs are strong and creative so it’s anyone’s game,” he adds.

Chef Eddie Low, Executive Chef, Chestnut Residence, says that he is doing a creative twist on a classic dish. His will be a rich, creamy tribute to traditional Mac & Cheese.

“My dish will be highlighting fresh, local dairy products such as butter, cheese and cream,” he says.

“I’m looking toward Chef Suman as my biggest competition because his dish combines innovation and deep fried Kraft Dinner,” he adds.

For his part, Chef Jaco Lokker, Executive Chef and Director of Culinary Operations for UTSG, says that his Mac & Cheese will be featuring cheeses that have very unique and strong flavours. Part of his challenge will be blending the cheese flavours so that no one cheese overpowers the other.

The local components of Chef Jaco’s dish are the dairy products from Harmony Dairy.

“My cheeses are Dutch in origin (paying tribute to my cultural heritage), but are all made in Canada,” says Chef Jaco, adding that he sees all of the Chefs as tough competitors.

“We are lucky to have an extremely talented culinary team here at U of T, so we’ll just have to wait and see who comes out on top,” he says.