Big cheese! Amateur chefs vie for glory in mac ‘n’ cheese cook-off • Brooklyn Paper

Big cheese! Amateur chefs vie for glory in mac ‘n’ cheese cook-off

Dairy double: This pair of guests sampled different soups at a previous Takedown event.
Matt Timm

The mac is back!

Amateur chefs from across the borough will take their best mac-and-cheese recipes out of the kitchen and into the arena of public opinion on Feb. 17, when they will battle for everlasting glory — and top-of-the-line home-cooking appliances — at a beloved Kings County cook-off!

“These people are brilliant cooks, but usually the only people they get to impress is their family and friends,” said Matt Timms, creator and host of the Takedown cooking competition series. “They have this incredible creativity, but no one to show it to, so they’re definitely bringing their A game.”

Timm’s cheese-based Takedown event, now in its 15th year, gives ticket holders the opportunity to taste some of the best home cooking Brooklyn has to offer — and then judge it mercilessly — ensuring only the tastiest dishes will rise to the top.

“It’s going to be really tasty,” said Timms.

It is also going to get weird, because there is only one rule in Mac ‘n’ Cheeze Takedown: there are no rules. Contestants have been known to take the event right off the rails, with delicacies only vaguely related to the dairy-based soul food, Timms said.

“I remember somebody made mac-and-cheese ice cream,” he said. “They can get highly experimental.”

In addition to the people’s choice awards, the competitors will also vie for the affection of professional cooks — including Kings County caterers Jeremy Leech and Jenn de la Vega, who authored “Showdown Comfort Food” — who will decide first, second, and third place winners in a judge’s category.

Aside from the thrill of nabbing one of the Brooklyn’s most prestigious amateur cooking nods, the competitors are also gunning for lux Cuisinart kitchen appliances and Anolon cookware.

Timms kicked off his cooking competitions with a Chili Takedown in 2004, and has since offered cookie, soup, and chocolate-based Takedowns, amongst other cook offs united in their glorification of amateur cooks, who the host claims are a bit more down-to-Earth than their pro counterparts.

“It’s so much more unpretentious and fun when chefs aren’t part of it,” said Timms. “The cast of characters is always really cool, and super diverse.”

Judge mac and cheese at Lot 45 [411 Troutman St. between Wyckoff and St. Nicholas avenues in Bushwick, (347) 505–9155, www.lot45bushwick.com]. Feb. 17 at 2 pm. $25.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505.
Cheese it: Amateur chefs will battle for mac ‘n’ cheese supremacy at an upcoming people’s choice cook-off on Feb. 17.
Matt Timms

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