Sam’s Place crowned champion of the inaugural Peterborough Mac + Cheese Festival

Jalapeño Bacon Mac + Cheesewich was festival-goer favourite, with Capra Toro and Amandala's capturing second and third place

The Jalapeño Bacon Mac + Cheesewich from Sam's Place was voted the favourite mac and cheese dish during the inaugural Peterborough Mac + Cheese Festival, which took place during October at 18 local eateries in downtown Peterborough. (Photo courtesy of Peterborough DBIA)
The Jalapeño Bacon Mac + Cheesewich from Sam's Place was voted the favourite mac and cheese dish during the inaugural Peterborough Mac + Cheese Festival, which took place during October at 18 local eateries in downtown Peterborough. (Photo courtesy of Peterborough DBIA)

Sam’s Place has been crowned the champion of the inaugural Peterborough Mac + Cheese Festival, garnering the most votes for their Jalapeño Bacon Mac + Cheesewich.

The foodie festival during the month of October saw 18 downtown eateries offer signature mac and cheese dishes, with festival-goers encouraged to vote for their favourites.

According to a media release from the Peterborough Downtown Business Improvement Area (DBIA), which organized the festival, more than 500 votes were cast — with a narrow margin of votes separating first, second, and third place.

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Capra Toro captured second place with their Bacon and Beer Mac, with Amandala’s coming in third with their Bringing Sexy Mac.

Along with bragging rights, Sam’s Place received a hand-crafted trophy as the champion, along with a $500 donation made in their name to Kawartha Food Share.

“We are honoured to have had the chance to compete with some of Peterborough’s finest chefs, while supporting the greatness that is Kawartha Food Share,” says Sam Sayer, owner of Sam’s Place. “Once again, the DBIA has come up with another creative way to draw attention to the awesomeness that the downtown has to offer, while supporting a killer cause.”

 Kawartha Food Share general manager Ashlee Aitken (left) celebrating the Peterborough Mac + Cheese Festival champion with Sam's Place staff members Eddy Sweeney (holding the "cheesy" trophy) and Owen Walsh.  As part of Sam's Place's win, the Peterborough Downtown Business Improvement Area made a $500 donation to Kawartha Food Share in the restaurant's name. (Photo courtesy of Peterborough DBIA)
Kawartha Food Share general manager Ashlee Aitken (left) celebrating the Peterborough Mac + Cheese Festival champion with Sam’s Place staff members Eddy Sweeney (holding the “cheesy” trophy) and Owen Walsh. As part of Sam’s Place’s win, the Peterborough Downtown Business Improvement Area made a $500 donation to Kawartha Food Share in the restaurant’s name. (Photo courtesy of Peterborough DBIA)

According to the Peterborough DBIA, the inaugural festival was “incredibly successful”, with two-thirds of participating restaurants reporting they were able to reach new customers as a result — with several restaurants noting out-of-town diners travelled to Peterborough specifically for the festival.

“It was incredible to see the community rally behind our festival and its mission to bring mac and cheese lovers together for an entire month,” says Amanda McBain, marketing and social media coordinator for the festival, who confirmed it will be returning again next year.

The Peterborough Mac + Cheese Festival also included a month-long food drive for Kawartha Food Share, with festival-goers encouraged to donate non-perishable food items when visiting participating restaurants.

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“Even through all the obstacles and tough times these restaurants have faced the past year and a half, their willingness to support our organization and their fellow neighbours is truly remarkable,” says Kawartha Food Share general manager Ashlee Aitken. “These donations are a huge help as we begin preparations for the upcoming busy holiday season.”

Many of the participating restaurants also went out of their way to promote the food drive with giveaways and discounts to drive donations and help fight local food insecurity. Pizza Bodega matched every customer donation of a non-perishable food item.

“We ended up just shy of our food drive target, so we rounded our donation up to 100 non-perishable items for Kawartha Food Share,” says Chef Sean Crooks, owner and operator of Pizza Bodega. “We had so much fun with all the competition antics online and crafting a one-of-a-kind mac and cheeza. But at the core of it, we’re a new business downtown, and we see poverty and its impacts every day. We felt like it was more important to use this opportunity to encourage people to give.”

For more information about the Peterborough Mac + Cheese Festival and all the restaurants that participated, visit www.ptbomacandcheesefest.com.