Copper Mountain Resort’s Mac & Cheese Fest back by popular demand | VailDaily.com

Copper Mountain Resort’s Mac & Cheese Fest back by popular demand

Heather Jarvis
hjarvis@summitdaily.com

It may be thought of as a kids' dish, but chefs will be taking macaroni and cheese to a whole new level this weekend at Copper Mountain Resort. From a Cajun crawfish and Andouille to a bourbon brisket mac 'n' cheese paired with a variety of vodka cocktails, even adults will find more than enough indulgences at the second annual Mac & Cheese Fest today.

"It was a huge success last year with our first year doing this, so we are so excited to have it back again this year," said Morgan Whitehouse, spokesperson with Copper. "It's a little different, but it still allows our chefs to be creative, and everyone loves mac 'n' cheese."

On Saturday, sampling runs from 2 to 5 p.m., with free live music from Gora Gora Orkestra and kids' activities. Eight local restaurants will be competing for a $1,000 cash prize for the tastiest and most creative mac 'n' cheese dish.

Most items are also paired with a sample-sized vodka cocktail created to complement the dish.

THE DISHES

This is the first year Bakers' Brewery in Silverthorne will be participating, bringing its traditional mac 'n' cheese as a base, with options to add a homemade vegetarian green chili or a sweet and spicy Sloppy Joe meat. Or add both for the Super Sloppy Supreme, said Cory Forster, co-owner and head brewmaster at Bakers'. The dishes will be topped with crispy haystack onions and can be paired with Bakers' own craft brews.

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The traditional mac 'n' cheese will be paired with the Buzzbird Belgian Wheat, a light and mild beer with a creamy body.

"If you go with the meat, we are bringing our Barking Dog Brown because the sweetness goes with sweetness, but the dry finish on the Brown helps to clean off the heaviness of the meat," Forster said.

The green chili dish will be paired with Bakers' new Elated IPA.

"This festival gives us a chance to showcase what we do," Forster said.

Endo's Bar & Grill from Copper won the competition last year with fried mac 'n' cheese stuffed in a Hatch chili relleno with Mexican melting cheeses and applewood smoked brisket, topped with Rojo sauce and Cotija cheese. This year, the restaurant will be bringing a very similar dish — mac 'n' cheese with fried Hatch chili chips, Mexican melting cheeses and applewood smoked brisket topped with Rojo sauce. Endo's will pair this dish with a Copper Cosmo.

Copper's Mountain Melt will be throwing down Cavatappi pasta spirals with Peppadew peppers, cherry wood smoked bacon, tender braised pork belly, crispy fried prosciutto, sharp white cheddar, rocket salad and Beemster Gouda cheese crumbles. Although not part of the competition, a gluten-free mac 'n' cheese option can be purchased at the Mountain Melt restaurant.

ACTIVITIES

There will be plenty of kids' activities on site, and a magician's show will take place at West Lake Stage on Saturday at 3:30 p.m.

Back this year, the free eating contest will challenge participants to get down 2 pounds of mac 'n' cheese in 2 minutes, down from 3 pounds last year. Anyone who can complete the challenge will receive a $49 activity day pass.

"Three pounds in 3 minutes was just too much," event manager Holly Robinson said. "This year, we will do 2 pounds in 2 minutes and see what they can do."

The popularity of the rich comfort food is evident in Copper's social push for the event, leading organizers to expect a good turnout for the festival.

"It appeals to all demographics, whether you are a millennial or 50 years old," Robinson said.

Copper Mountain Weekend schedule

Saturday, July 16

10:30 a.m. — Nature Talk, base of American Eagle Lift

2-5 p.m. — Mac & Cheese sampling, Burning Stones Plaza

2-5 p.m. — Kid’s activities: Mr. Slate You Paint the Living Statue, Face Painting and Crafts

2-5 p.m. — Free live music: Gora Gora Orkestra

3 p.m. — Free eating contest, register at ticket sales tent by 2:45 p.m.

3:30 p.m. — Magician’s show, West Lake Stage

4:45 p.m. — Chef winners announced and awards distributed

7 p.m. — Copper Campfire & Live Music with Randell McKinnon, Fire Globe, Center Village

9 p.m. — Fireworks over West Lake

Sunday, July 17

10 a.m. — Free Family 5K, Center Village

10:30 a.m. — Pedal for Pints Community Ride, meet at Gravitee Sports

12:30 p.m. — Mountain Pose Yoga, Solitude Station