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Save the Dunes & Family Advocates Big Winners at This Year’s Mac & Cheese Fest

Submitted by Matthew Werner Photos by Laura Niemiec

People assembled in the shadow of the Indiana Dunes at the intersection of 9th Street and York in Michigan City, Indiana, Sunday afternoon. The draw: carbohydrates and cheese. The stake: best mac and cheese maker of Northwest Indiana. The cause: charity. It was Dig the Dunes Mac & Cheese Fest 2021.

Pedestrians padded along brick-paved streets that criss-cross buildings of the Zorn Brewing complex—the tap house, beer garden, The Barrelhouse event space, and the historic Zorn Brewery itself. It had an outdoor street fair vibe. The sun shined, music grooved, beer flowed, and good feelings radiated. It was a vintage Indian summer as sunglasses and shorts were the attire of choice on the fourth day of fall.

Attendees were able to enjoy 15 samples and then vote for their favorite!

Ten restaurants and four amateurs competed for top macaroni and cheese maker. A three-judge panel blind-tasted a sample from every entrant. Meanwhile, attendees sampled their hearts content and chose the peoples’ choice award winners. This reporter carbo-loaded and every time I thought I couldn’t handle more, someone pointed out another entry I just had to try. Every time, I did. Not once was I disappointed with my decision to press on. Andouille sausage, lobster, Caribbean jerk, and Feta, Gouda, and cheddar cheese mixed with the noodles. No one left hungry or disappointed, except those who couldn’t get a ticket to the sold-out event.

Moe’s Mediterranean Food Truck dished out two delicious choices!

In the end, the judges selected best amateur, most original and best of show. Attendees picked Peoples Choice Restaurant and Peoples Choice Amateur awards. Here are the results and their charity of choice:

  1. Peoples Choice, Restaurant: Fish Camp; Save the Dunes – $375

  2. Peoples Choice, Amateur: Rechelle, NeMa’s Famous Mac & Cheese: LaPorte Family Advocates CASA Program – $375

  3. Best Amateur Mac & Cheese: Rechelle, NeMa’s Famous Mac & Cheese; LaPorte Family Advocates CASA Program – $250

  4. Most Original, Trailyard; Opportunity Enterprise – $250

  5. Best in Show: Zorn Brew Works; Save the Dunes – $1,000

Thank you to all the restaurants and amateurs that participated!

Amateurs: Rechelle McCray Jen & Rose Mann Amanda Nafe Lisa LaFortune

Trailyard won judge’s most original with a chorizo style mac loaded with cheetos

Restaurants: Zorn Brew Works Fish Camp Trailyard Cool Runnings Goblin & The Grocer Leed’s Chesterton Brewery Patrick’s Grille Moe’s Mediterranean Momma Sue’s

Judges Arturo Pozos, Johnny Stimley and Katie Eaton had the tough job of blind tasting 15 samples and coming up with the winner.

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