Don’t Miss the New Orleans Mac N Cheese Fest

New Orleans Mac N Cheese Fest
Photo courtesy of NOLA Mac N Cheese Fest on Facebook

Why mac ‘n’ cheese, you ask? If we can throw a festival for a Creole tomato or pretty much every type of seafood swimming in the Gulf, why not celebrate this quintessential American dish?

The rest of the country has been honoring mac ‘n’ cheese with its own festival in places like California and New Mexico. Baton Rouge had one last June, and Chicago is planning a big one in November. Believe it or not, there wasn’t one in New Orleans till this year, but it looks like there’s always room for another food festival in our city.

New Orleans will be holding its first ever Mac N Cheese Fest on Saturday, October 21, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., at the Louis Armstrong Park. The sprawling park in Treme sees its share of festivals, and it’s a perfect location because of its size and proximity to the French Quarter.

The fest is free and kid-friendly. It will feature dozens of mac ‘n’ cheese dishes from Louisiana restaurants, pop-ups and food catering businesses. You can preorder food and drink tickets here for pickup at the main entrance on the day of the fest. You’ll also be able to pick up the festival’s poster that was created by the local artist Becky Fos (which you could also buy on the festival’s website).

Festival organizers are limiting the number of vendors to 15, perhaps learning from the Fried Chicken Festival’s struggle with overwhelming popularity last year. Each vendor will be set up in order to accommodate two lines of customers. Vendors will be serving at least one mac ‘n’ cheese dish, plus up to five non-mac items.

The vendor lineup includes The Big Cheesy, a popular local grilled cheese restaurant with locations in Kenner and Uptown, House of Blues Restaurant & Bar, the Uptown staple Fat Harry’s, and the Mid-City-based Melt. Barcadia, the gaming bar and restaurant on Tchoupitoulas Street, will also join the vendor lineup. The New Orleans-based BBQ pop-up called Gonzo’s Smokehouse, which you may have seen at the local markets and breweries, will be there. Voleo’s Seafood Restaurant that specializes in Cajun and German cuisine and is located in Lafitte, Louisiana, also signed up.

The mac ‘n’ cheese dishes will be judged by a panel of professional and celebrity judges in two categories: Overall Winner and Kid’s Choice Award. The hand-blown glass trophies that will be handed out to the winners were made locally by Mark Rosenbaum of Rosetree Gallery.

Judges include the “foodie influencer” Evie Eats, the local burlesque dancer and producer Trixie Minx, and chef and culinary personality Jay Ducote. You may remember Ducote from the “Food Network Star” show, where he was a runner up on Season 11, or his show titled “Deep Fried America” that aired on the Travel Channel. Ducote also appeared on “Treme” as himself, has a line of products, and produces “The Bite and Booze Radio Show.” Jarrius Robertson, a young advocate behind the It Takes Lives To Save Lives foundation and the “Super Saints Fan,” will preside over the team of youngsters who will judge in the Kid’s Choice category.

The live music lineup is scheduled for the whole duration of the festival and includes the founding member of the Meters and bassist George Porter Jr. with his band, John Boutte, John “Papa” Gros & Big Chief Monk Boudreaux, singer-songwriter Grayson Capps, and vocalist and songwriter Susan Cowsill. The Fontainbleau High School Jazz Ensemble One will open the festival at 11:00 a.m.

The festival is organized by Kent Broussard, who co-owns No Problem Raceway and Circuit Grand Bayou motorsports facilities in Belle Rose, Louisiana, and his partner Julie Egren. They will donate a portion of the proceeds to three charities — the nonprofit Mary Parker Outreach Program, Tres Doux Foundation for children with developmental delays and disabilities, and the Roman Harper’s Hope 41 Foundation which supports children’s literacy.

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