Foodies who love chili and mac n' cheese are diehards as demonstrated last Sunday at the 3rd Annual Mac & Chili Challenge at Sherwood Island State Park in Westport. Over 700 fans weren't deterred by the wet weather and thoroughly enjoyed sampling all the terrific dishes from the participating restaurants.
“They wore hats, ponchos and brought umbrellas” said Jim Keenan, director. “And it was their passion for chili and mac n' cheese that truly provided the sunshine for the day. There was little to no focus on the misty rain. It was all on the food and who they voted for. The overcast and dreary day was perfect for comfort food and while most enjoyed theirs at home, those who came out to enjoy these great dishes really brightened the day. I was impressed!”
Event volunteers helped rewrite hundreds of wet paper ballots so they could be scanned to determine the winners in four different categories. “Every vote counted and glad we went through the extra effort as the results were incredibly close” said Keenan. Hub & Spoke in the Black Rock section of Bridgeport defended their 2016 championship in the classic beef chili category. Simply Delicious in South Norwalk won in the creative chili category. Burger Bar & Bistro also in South Norwalk won the classic mac n' cheese category while Cask Republic with locations in Greenwich, New Haven and South Norwalk won in the creative mac n' cheese category.
Those who attended were treated to both ice cream and milk samples from The Farmer's Cow along with free Arcadia brand water from Stop & Shop, cookie dough samples from the Connecticut Cookie Company, Hummel hot dog bites grilled up by the DogTown food truck, hot coffees from the New England Coffee Company and both cold and hot teas from Harney & Sons Fine Teas.
The event was supported by student athlete volunteers from Sacred Heart University men's lacrosse, equestrian and women's hockey teams and the event benefited the Turtle Shell Fund in Shelton. Sponsors also included WEBE108, City Carting and Recycling, Cabot's who donated the sour cream and cheese for the chili entries, Clover merchant services and Lowe's.