Macaroni and Cheese Cook Off Engages Local Chefs and the Food Bank of South Jersey

It’s the ultimate comfort food, signifying home, hearth and childhood.  And on Monday, January 16, 2012, an unimaginable number of varieties of this special dish will be cooked by a bevy of local chefs to benefit the Food Bank of South Jersey.

The Food Bank’s third annual “Mac Off” – a celebration of macaroni and cheese – will be the star performer at the Scottish Rite ballroom in Collingswood, NJ from 5pm to 9pm. Admission is $10/adult and $5/child (for children under 12). Chefs will contribute their time and food as their “Day of Service” in honor of Martin Luther King day.

For chefs, the challenge is to make over Mac & Cheese in their image. The samplings will feature American, Mexican, Indian, Greek and Italian versions of this home cooked meal. Chefs will donate their time and food as part of their Martin Luther King “Day of Service” and all proceeds will help the Food Bank of South Jersey reach more hungry people in South Jersey.

“People may not realize this but macaroni and cheese, when cooked properly, is packed full of calcium and vitamin D,” explains Chef Jim Malaby of blueplate restaurant in Mullica Hill. “Our goal is to show people how easy it is to make this dish and how many healthy variations are possible.”

Severino’s Pasta will donate all the macaroni for the chefs’ use. “Our pasta is all made by hand,” explains Pete Severino, one of the Westmont store’s owners, “and the Mac Off  gives us an opportunity to showcase it to a wider audience.”  Several hundred people are expected over the course of the evening and chefs will have tastings of each of their dishes for everyone to sample.

The event will also feature nationally known Chef Aaron McCargo Jr. of “The Chew” as one of the judges who will choose the best and creamiest dish. The audience will participate through a running, online tally. Val Traore, CEO of the Food Bank, says, “Each time we’ve done this we’ve attracted more and more families. It’s a great opportunity to taste, learn and enjoy – and benefit the Food Bank at the same time. And of course we’re honored to have Chef Aaron on board to judge the winner!”

For local chefs and the Food Bank, the partnership is a natural one.  Traore explains, “We share many of the same goals with these chefs – feeding hungry people and using our talents to create nutritious, good food.”

Participating restaurants are:

Chef Mark Smith, The Tortilla Press & Tortilla Press Cantina

Chef Jim Malaby, blueplate

Chef Alex Capasso, Blackbird & West Side Gravy

Connie Correia, owner, The Pop Shop

Chef Jimmy Marino, Bistro di Marino

Chef Rakesh, Inde Blue

Chef Erin Kamke-Gibson, Whole Foods, Marlton

Chef Dennis, Mt. St. Joseph Culinary program

Chef Mike Sichinski, Food Bank of South Jersey

Chef Alberta, Aunt Bertha’s Kitchen

The Collingswood Scottish Rite ballroom is located at 315 White Horse Pike in Collingswood. For event information and details call the Food Bank of South Jersey at 856-662-4884, ext 133 or visit us at