“Grab your stretchy pants.”
That’s the advice from the Peterborough Downtown Business Improvement Area (DBIA) about the Peterborough Mac + Cheese Festival, which returns in October with 19 mac and cheese dishes available at participating downtown Peterborough restaurants.
The second annual celebration of local food and the talents of local chefs runs for the entire month of October. It’s a self-guided festival, so carb lovers can indulge as often as they like, alone or with family and friends. There are both traditional and innovative mac and cheese dishes, with vegan and gluten-free options also available. A map of the participating restaurants is available below.
“It’s the ideal number one comfort food, and we all need a little comfort coming out of COVID and all the restrictions,” said DBIA executive director Terry Guiel during a launch event on Wednesday morning (September 28) at The Food Shop at 374 Water Street.
Once again this year, downtown restaurants will be vying to be crowned Mac + Cheese Champion, an honour bestowed last year on Sam’s Place Deli for their Jalapeño Bacon Mac + Cheesewich.
“We were beyond proud to be chosen by the Peterborough Community as the winner for 2021, and we had a lot of fun coming up with our sandwich recipe,” says Sam’s Place Deli owner Sam Sayer. “It was an amazing feeling to hold that trophy above our heads, We can’t wait to compete again this year. More than anything, we are excited to see what the other chefs will be bringing to the table this fall.”
Foodies will be able to vote online for their favourite mac and cheese dishes all month long, with the victor chosen by the end of October — receiving bragging rights for the year, a cheesy hand-crafted trophy, and a sizable donation in their name to Kawartha Food Share.
Earlier this year, the Peterborough DBIA won the best special event and promotion award from the Ontario Business Improvement Area Association for the inaugural Peterborough Mac + Cheese Festival.
“The idea for this mac and cheese festival really came from the fact that we are in a university and college community,” Guiel said. “I remember my time in college, and the number one food we all ate was Kraft mac and cheese.”
But unlike that simple box of macaroni with cheese product, the 19 dishes being offered by downtown restaurants during the Peterborough Mac + Cheese Festival include some adventurous options such as Whistle Stop’s Mac n Cheese Poutine, DR. J’s Mac in a Waffle Bowl, La Mesita’s El Diablo Mac + Cheese, Crepes of Wrath Mac + Cheese Crepe, and Tragically Dipped Holly Macaroni — a donut-shaped mac and cheese. A full list of all 19 dishes is available below.
“We’re the culinary capital of the region and some of our restaurants are the best in the region,” Guiel said. “It’s great to see them take this very simple mac and cheese concept and turn it into a culinary luxury item.”
One again this year, the Peterborough Mac + Cheese Festival will be partnering with Kawartha Food Share to run a food drive. During the festival, each participating restaurant will be accepting non-perishable donations. Festival-goers are encouraged to bring their donations downtown when visiting any of the participating restaurants.
New to this year’s festival is a make-at-home recipe challenge for budding home cooks. Along with a recipe for last year’s winning Jalapeño Bacon Mac + Cheesewich, a local mac recipe is available on the festival’s website.
Curated in partnership with The Food Shop, the local mac recipe features handmade pasta from the Pasta Shop paired with local cheeses, milk, and stone-ground flour. All the ingredients for the local mac recipe can be found at The Food Shop on Water Street.
Sponsored by Shorelines Casino, the Peterborough Mac + Cheese Festival runs from Saturday, October 1st until Monday, October 13th. For more information, visit www.ptbomacandcheesefest.com and follow the festival on Instagram and Facebook.
Mac and Cheese Dishes
- BrickHouse No Eff’n Way Mac Burger
- Whistle Stop’s Mac n Cheese Poutine
- DR. J’s Mac in a Waffle Bowl
- Tragically Dipped Holly Macaroni (gluten free)
- Champs Spinach Mac + Cheese Dip
- Boardwalk’s Mactoberfest
- Real Thai’s Mac + Cheese Bowl
- La Mesita’s El Diablo Mac + Cheese
- Crepes of Wrath Mac + Cheese Crepe
- The Dirty Butter Chicken Mac
- Amandalas Cheese + “Howcutearewe”
- Forest Vegan Mac (Gluten Free)
- Nateure’s Plate Mac n Please
- Grilled Cheesewich
- Sam’s Mac & Cheese Loafwich
- Maple Moose Grilled Cheese
- El (P) Creamy 3-Cheese Chorizo BeerMac
- McThirsty’s McTastic Mac
- Crook and Coffer’s Mac + Cheese Brulee
- Black Horse Sweet Potato Mac