Stu Helm’s 2018 Asheville Mac ‘n’ Cheese Challenge

Every once in a while I get the itch to do something different than what I’m already doing. Like, when I was an artist, I often had the urge to book rock shows, so I did that. Now that I’m a food writer, I like to do things like the Asheville Coffee Expo, The Food Fan Radio Show, and more recently, the Asheville Fried Chicken Challenge and the first ever Asheville Philly Fight! Stay tuned to this page, and my Facebook page to follow my latest side-projects, and keep up with who’s got the best what in Asheville and WNC!

Stu Helm’s

Wednesday, August 22nd, 1:30pm – 3:30pm – Live on Facebook!

So, who does have the Best Mac ‘n’ Cheese in Asheville?

I asked that question in my latest Eat of the Week post, as well as on my Stu Helm Food Fan Facebook page, and on the Facebook group WAX- West Asheville Exchange, and it seems everyone has an opinion, or two.

My personal favorites include Mojo Kitchen, Foothills Butcher Bar, and The Lobster Trap. When The People spoke, they strongly supported Fig Bistro, Storm Rhum Bar, Foggy Mountain Brewpub and Post 70. Of course, one or two wise guys claimed that their mom or grandma makes the best mac ‘n’ cheese ever, which is great… for you… but does Granny wanna throw down with Asheville’s best cooks and chefs to show off her skills in an actual competition? I mean, if she does, then send her my way, otherwise, quit playin’ and let’s do this for real.

The 2018 Asheville Mac ‘n’ Cheese Challenge is similar in structure to the recent 2018 Asheville Philly Fight. This time, TEN competitors will go up in front of FOUR judges, and as always, the public will have a chance to weigh in on Facebook with their #1 choice.


The 2018 Asheville Mac ‘n’ Cheese Challenge will be covered by local indie media and will be streamed live on social media! Watch on Instagram and Facebook via Ashvegas, ConnectAVL, and Dig Local Asheville!


The public has 5 weeks to seek out and try all of the competitors’ mac ‘n’ cheese for themselves, and public voting will take place on the day of the event via my Stu Helm: Food Fan Facebook page.


Prior to competition day, one lucky member of the public will be selected to sit on the judges’ panel alongside Spaceman Jones, Shay Brown, Kelly Denson, and Franco “Firewalker” Donohue!

NOTE: In order to be a judge, you must be available on Wednesday, August 22nd from 1:15pm – 3:30pm. Judging starts at 1:30 sharp.

It’s easy to enter this contest, here’s how:

Step 1: “Like” all of the following Facebook pages:

Stu Helm: Food Fan
Takeout Central

Foggy Mountain Brewpub
Mojo Kitchen & Lounge
Foothills Local Meats
The Burger Stop
FIG Bistro
Storm Rhum Bar and Bistro
Post 70
OysterHouse Brewing Company
The Clean Plate: Asheville
Dig Local Asheville
Firewalker Hot Sauce

NOTE: If you already “like” some or all of the pages above, that counts! You do NOT need to unlike and then re-like them. C’mon, now.

Step 2: Come back to THIS PAGE and type, “I liked ’em all!” in the comments section below.

Step 3: Sit back and wait to see if you are the lucky winner, selected at random from all those who enter!

The winner will be selected one week prior to the event, notified via email, and announced on social media.

Good Luck!

Scroll Down to read all the details about this competition so far, and follow me here at, and on social media to keep an eye on this contest right up until the day it happens, live on Facebook!

DATE: Wednesday, August 22, 2018
TIME:1:30pm – 3:30pm
LOCATION: Dig Local Offices
This Event is Not Open to the Public

1. Shay Brown – Revelry: Unique Downtown Events
2. Franco Donahue – Firewalker Hot Sauce
3. Dave Bristol AKA Spaceman Jones
5. Kelly Denson – All American Food Fights
4. Facebook Contest Winner – TBA

1. Foggy Mountain Brewpub (Winner Best mac ‘n’ Cheese, 2016 Carolina Mountain Cheese Fest)
2. Mojo Kitchen & Lounge
3. OysterHouse Brewing Company
4. AUX Bar
5. Storm Rhum Bar and Bistro
6. FIG Bistro
7. Post 70
8. The Burger Stop
9. Foothills Local Meats
10. The Clean Plate: Asheville


The commitment from the participating restaurants is to provide two full sized servings of their mac ‘n’ cheese, packaged to go, for a driver from Takeout Central to pick up and deliver to the judge’s table in the Dig Local offices located in Pack Square.

Meg from Takeout Central will be in touch with all participating contestants to arrange their individual pick-up times.

Contestants can add “stuff” to their entries (crawfish, roasted peppers, pulled pork etc), or go purist.

Contestants are encouraged to do whatever they believe will get the best reaction from the judges!

Contestants please send a photo of your mac ‘n’ cheese to ASAP.

Contestants are asked to include a written description of their mac ‘n’ cheese with their entries. (see below)

PASTA (ie: Fusili, Rotini, Elbow, etc): ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

CHEESE(S): ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

OTHER INGREDIENTS: ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

OTHER NOTES: ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

The Judges will be allowed to discuss the entries with each other, and will be asked to select their third, second, and first place winners, based on their expert assessment.

The first place winner will receive a PDF file of this spiffy graphic, suitable for printing and framing!

The 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners will all be invited back to compete in the 2019 Asheville Mac ‘n’ Cheese Challenge!


I hates plastic! So, in addition to the judging of the mac ‘n’ cheese itself, but totally separate and having zero impact on the actual ranking and scoring of the entries, there is also a “Plastic Points” rating system, based on how many pieces of plastic (and Styrofoam) are included with the delivery of the food.

Each contestant will begin with 10 points and 1 point will be deducted for each of the following:

• Plastic bag
• Plastic fork
• Plastic knife
• Plastic spoon
• Plastic Straw
• Plastic container 1
• Plastic container 2
• Plastic container 3
• Plastic condiment packaging
• Miscellaneous plastic

Negative numbers are possible. IE: 2 forks = 2 points off, plastic straw in a plastic bag = 2 points off, plastic container has a plastic lid = 2 points off, etc.

NOTE: Although they will not affect the judges score, final Plastic Point tallies will be announced to the public.

My co-sponsors of this competition are Takeout Central, Asheville’s #1 food delivery service,
as well as Dig Local Asheville, and Firewalker Hot Sauce!


Asheville Food Tours

From left: Chef Jacob Sessoms of Table; Chef William Dissen, The Market Place; Chef Steven Goff, Standard Foods; Chef Katie Button, Curate; Chef Joe Scully, Chestnut and Corner Kitchen; Stu Helm; Chef John Fleer, Rhubarb; Chef Karen Donatelli, Donatelli Bakery; Chef Peter Pollay, Posana Cafe; and Chef Matt Dawes, Bull & Beggar./ Photo by STEWART O'SHIELDS for ASHVEGAS.COM

From left: Chef Jacob Sessoms of Table; Chef William Dissen, The Market Place; Chef Steven Goff, Standard Foods; Chef Katie Button, Curate; Chef Joe Scully, Chestnut and Corner Kitchen; Stu Helm; Chef John Fleer, Rhubarb; Chef Karen Donatelli, Donatelli Bakery; Chef Peter Pollay, Posana Cafe; and Chef Matt Dawes, Bull & Beggar./ Photo by STEWART O’SHIELDS for ASHVEGAS.COM

Stu Helm is an artist, writer, and podcaster living in Asheville, NC, and a frequent diner at local restaurants, cafes, food trucks, and the like. His tastes run from hot dogs and mac ‘n’ cheese, to haute cuisine, and his opinions are based on a lifetime of eating out. He began writing about food strictly to amuse his friends on Facebook.


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