The Date: July 14, 2012
The Place: Arabi, LA
The Event: The 1st Annual Mac & Cheese Showdown
I know you’re asking yourself, “why a Mac & Cheese Showdown?” Well, just about every restaurant in St. Bernard Parish that’s worth its weight in pasta has a Mac & Cheese on their menu. Everyone has felt that a certain restaurant that has been around for years always had the best Mac & Cheese, so the M & C gauntlet was dropped and the challenge became a reality. By the way, the restaurant that has had the reputation for the best Mac & Cheese didn’t participate in the showdown. The restaurants were in pursuit of the 1st Place Trophy, designed by local artist and St. Bernard parish resident Luis Colmenares, plus bragging rights.
The event took place at the St. Bernard Seafood & Farmer's Market under a roof in front of the St. Bernard Parish Visitor Center. If you wanted to taste the Mac & Cheese from the eight participating restaurants, the cost was $10. Believe me, everyone got plenty to eat. They also had a chance to pick the Fan's Favorite Mac & Cheese (details on who won later). The money raised went to the St. Bernard Parish Tourist Commission so they can continue to market their EATS campaign.
There were six judges including The Louisiana Travellin’ Man. We were not allowed near the serving area to assure the judging would be completely blind and unbiased. The volunteers placed a number on the bottom of the eight plates and placed one each of the eight plates on a tray. We opened our bottle of water, grabbed a fork in one hand, a pen in the other and the judging began.
Going into this, I figured there would be some minor variations on the different M & C’s, but how surprised I was to see such creativity. As a judge, you are only supposed to taste a small amount, cleanse your palate then go to the next plate. The problem for me was they were so good I ate most of everything in front of me. When the judging was over, the volunteers tallied the votes and the WINNERS ARE?
First Place: Desi Romano’s Sports Bar
Second Place: Charlie’s Restaurant
Fan Favorite: MeMe’s Bar and Grille
Here’s what goes into Desi’s Mac & Cheese that makes it taste so good (if you look at the tray with all the plates Desi’s is on the lower left with the breaded bowtie pasta on top). They take homemade queso cheese along with homemade salsa, add some of their spinach dip, put boiled shrimp in a food processor until smooth, add it to the above ingredients, add the boiled macaroni and top it off with a deep fried breaded bowtie pasta. You must plan a trip to St. Bernard Parish to see all the great sights and make sure you stop for lunch at Desi’s for the most decadent Mac & Cheese in Louisiana. Oh, by the way, to add another element to Desi’s Mac & Cheese, at their restaurant, it’s served in a toasted bread bowl. There is a law in Louisiana that states “Diets are off limit while in Louisiana”.
Desi Romano’s Sports Bar
3829 Paris Rd.
Chalmette, LA 70043
6129 E. St. Bernard Highway
Violet, LA 70092
MeMe’s Bar and Grille
712 W. Judge Perez Dr.
Chalmette, LA 70043
The Louisiana Travelin' Man