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The best mac and cheese in Houston: Chefs compete to see who makes the comfort classic special

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Noodle Art winner Misty Daisy Schneider in a noodle dress Sept 2013
Noodle Art winner Misty Daisy Schneider in a noodle dress. Photo by Marcy de Luna

Who makes the best mac and cheese of all?

At the Golden Noodle Mac & Cheese Competition, chefs from hotels and caterers from across the city competed in four categories to determine who could make the most standout version of the comfort classic. A panel of four judges, Cordua Restaurants chef David Cordua, CultureMap contributor Marcy de Luna, food explorer Jay Francis and Culinaire Catering's Barbara McKnight, sifted through the 15 entries to determine the winners Thursday night.

For Cordua, reveling in the chance to do some judging rather than being judged, one criteria above all else stood out. "Mac and cheese should not be as al dente as other pastas — you don't want to have to chew it," he said.

In the traditional category, Compleat Cuisine's Five Star Mac & Cheese took the top prize. In the creative category, Marriott North Houston's pork belly enhanced mac and cheese found favor with the judges, while the King Ranch chicken-inspired mac and cheese from Haak Winery took the people's choice. Although it didn't earn an award, chef Brian Pashkoff of the Crowne Plaza River Oaks won lots of fans with his chocolate and almond stir fry that utilized gnocchi and delivered a well-balanced mix of of sweet and savory flavors.

For de Luna, Behind the Bash's winning dessert entry, Cappuccino S'Mores Mac with Mascarpone, was "the best dish overall."

In the noodle art category, the only rule was that the entry had to consist of 80 percent noodles. Pictured above, Misty Daisy Schneider created a dress made entirely out of noodles called the “BowTie” Affair.

The event — which raised money for the National Association of Catering and Event Managers education initiatives  — allowed an underappreciated segment of the culinary world to shine and left everyone full. Can't wait until next year.

Got a great photo of a Houston happening or everyday occurrence? Send it to barbara@culturemap.com, along with details (who, what, where and why it's special). It might make our Pix of the Day.

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