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May the best mac win

Mac-n-Cheese Bowl to benefit appetites, food bank

Those who can’t get enough of the creamy, cheesy, bubbling hot goodness of macaroni-and-cheese are in luck. One of America’s favorite comfort foods will take over the Albany Marriott ballroom on Saturday for the fourth annual Mac-n-Cheese Bowl.

A staple of American cuisine, the creamy creation made its way to the United States by way of Thomas Jefferson, who while visiting France fell in love with the dish. Since then, chefs have put inventive twists on the classic, making it a staple on menus of many fine dining establishments.

Each year, area restaurants compete for the best mac-and-cheese creation and give guests the opportunity to sample the dishes and vote for their favorite. In addition to appetites, the event benefits the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York. Last year’s event raised $35,000 and organizers hope to collect more than $40,000 this year.

Albany resident Sarah Gold attends the event every year with her husband and mother.

“We go mostly because it’s for a good cause, but the food is always excellent and it’s a nice break in the middle of winter — although you end up kind of in a cheese coma,” she said. “There are 30 restaurants — so the secret is to make sure you don’t overextend yourself too early.”

Gold said their plan of attack is to go in groups.

“People tend to dive right in because you are usually hungry when you get there. At about 15 minutes in, you are like, ‘What was I thinking?’” Gold said. “We actually share each other’s samples and then if you really like it, you can go back for your own.”

One of Gold’s favorites from past events is a cheddar-apple “Kugel” mac-and-cheese from Chez Mike in East Greenbush.

Restaurants from all over the Capital District will participate at the bowl, but because the ballroom at the Albany Marriott has a limited capacity, a number of restaurants are put on a waiting list for next year’s event.

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