“Apparently pork is the new cheese”*
At last weekend's SF Food Wars' Return of the Mac Battle Royale with Cheese throwdown, whimsy (free mustaches) and gimmicks (fried mac and cheese balls on an ice cream cone) went head-to-head with inventive and accomplished cookery. Held at boxy new venue Public Works, the event showcased a wide variety of culinary and aesthetic styles.
Subtly named entries like “Sleazy Cheesy Bacon Mac” and “Piggy Cups of Cheesy Love” hinted at the unofficial theme here, where exactly half of the 16 competitors threw pork in the mix. Our fear: Adding bacon or pork belly is the lazy chef's crutch. Like comedian Jim Gaffigan says, “Bacon is the food they wrap around other foods to make them better.” At Saturday's competition, however, there were few duds in the mix. The pork served to enhance the macs, rather than prop them up (though our hearts went out to the glum vegetarian in line behind us).
SFoodie's personal favorite was the bluntly titled “Pork Belly Mac,” submitted by Jazzy B'z Recipez. As the name suggests, there wasn't a lot of flash here, no jalapeno-infused olive oil or butternut puree. With only Coleman Hampshire pork, cheese, and “a bit of salt and pepper,” Jazzy B managed to far outshine fancier colleagues. This one rated third with the judges.