Forget Super Bowl, ‘MacChilifest‘ is hottest ticket in town ... and how!
Rarely is a good cause so delicious.
Sunday’s MacChilifest cooked up an arrary of chili dishes and mac ’n’ cheese from local chefs in a heated battle for culinary laurels Sunday that also raised money for an educational foundation.
“It’s amazing,” said Jennifer Campo. “I love it. It’s the first time I actually came, and I love the variety.”
The event, in addition to serving up buckets of the staples on many Super Bowl Day menus, also gave area food entrepreneurs a prime spot to promote their offerings to the large pre-game crowd at Bedford Middle School.
“From a marketing standpoint, I’m telling people in Westport what my restaurant is all about,” said George O’Connell, owner of Tru North in Black Rock.
Visitors were asked to pay a $15 entrance fee for unlimited samples from nearly two dozen food booths, which tempted with offerings that ranged from classic beef chili, while others were more adventurous.
The favorites, chosen by votes cast by the crowd, competed in three broad categories: Classic Beef Chili, Creative Chili and Mac ’n’ Cheese.
Proceeds benefited the Mary A. Schmecker Turtle Shell Fund, a charity that supports arts education in the Naugatuck Valley area.
“This year I hope we’ll get a couple of thousand people,” said organizer Jim Keenan, who also oversees the Chowdafest in October.
“We’re here to volunteer,” said Lauren Flynn, one of about 100 students and athletes from Sacred Heart University in Fairfield who volunteered to help organize the event. “I think it’s fabulous to see everyone from the community coming together and enjoying great food and sharing what they love to do.”
“I also like to see the different takes on mac and cheese,” she said. “There’s so much variety.”
While most of the mac ’n; heese recipes were easy on the palette, a few of the chili dishes were registered on the hot ’n’ spicy side.
“It got me,” said Jessica Savage of Stamford, who looked stunned for a moment after tasting a particularly zesty chili from Geronimo in Fairfield that included fire-roasted hatch green chilis.
“The green chilis got me,” she said. “Wow! That one’s got a kick to it. I’m sweating now.”
Fortunately, there was water on hand to douse the hotter culinary heat, although for her friend Bob Corbett, it wasn’t as much of an issue.
“Sometimes it’s a good spice,” he said. “It’s a burn spice for her, but I enjoy the heat a little bit.”
Following are the MacChilifest winners voted by attendees:
Classic Beef Chili category: first, Chilibomb, Fairfield, "Texas Peacemaker" chili; second, Weston Fire Department, "SmokeEater" chili, and third, Southport Brewing Co., Fairfield, "Maple Stout" chili.
Creative Chili category: first, Little Pub, Wilton, "Moroccan Picadillo" chili; second (tie), Liquid Lunch, Shelton, "Pumpkin Brisket" chili, and second (tie), Old Post Tavern, Fairfield, "Pat's Smokehouse" chili.
Mac ’n’ Cheese category: first, Simply Delicious, Norwalk, "Jack Mac;” Chilibomb, Fairfield, "Pulled Pork Mac, and DrewbaQ food truck, "Q Bowl.”