Aspiring chefs put the ‘mmmmm’ in mac n’ cheese at DC’s annual Epic Mac N’ Cheese competition

Typically, we think of mac n’ cheese as a quick and easy meal prepared from boxed ingredients. But on April 8, eight teams of Grade 11 and 12 students whipped up their own creative concoctions based on the classic dish at Durham College’s (DC) third annual Epic Mac N’ Cheese competition hosted at the college’s W. Galen Weston Centre for Food (CFF).

Contestants’ family and friends, along with other community members, gathered to watch the event, taste test the entries and vote for their favourites to help decide the winners.

Among many unbelievably cheesy dishes, one clearly prevailed. The winning recipe belonged to Katelyn Gadajar and Griffin VanWinden, students at Father Leo J. Austin Catholic Secondary School in Whitby for their combination of goat cheese, Italian sausage, roasted red pepper and garlic over an exquisite cream-based sauce.

“I had a lot of fun, and the experience was great especially considering I am going to be attending DC for the Culinary Management program in the fall,” said VanWinden. “Being able to work alongside a DC mentor was really awesome, and it felt good to win as it gave me a lot more confidence in what I do and solidified my decision for my future career.”

Coming in a close second and third, were:

  • Josh Simpson and Emma Whittington
    Peter Catholic Secondary School, Peterborough
    Epic combination: Cajun chicken, bacon, jalapeño and asiago cheese.
  • Kacey Payne and Bailey Agnew
    Henry Street High School, Whitby
    Epic combination: Italian sausage, bacon, sautéed onions and peppers, and parmesan.

“It’s always exciting to see young chefs with incredible talent cooking up a storm in DC’s state-of-the-art kitchens, and the support from the community was outstanding,” said Peter Lee, professor and co-ordinator of DC’s culinary programs. “It’s an excellent opportunity for high school students to get a real taste of what they would learn in a post-secondary environment.”

DC extends its sincere thanks to all of this year’s participants and everyone who attended the event. The money raised from event ticket sales will be added to a bursary fund that helps support students pursuing a career in culinary arts, hospitality or special events planning at DC. All students who participated in the competition are eligible to apply for the bursary if accepted into a CFF program.