Kelly Chapman loved macaroni and cheese so much, it’s all she sells at her creation, Macolicious. There is a science to perfecting the American classic – and who better to trust?
How does the classic mac and cheese vary around the USA?
Traditional mac’n’cheese varies in three key ways:
Creamy Style – Made on the stovetop, usually with a cream or cheese sauce, powder or even water based product. The noodles taste super firm like an Italian pasta. This is the most popular approach, and can be found at most restaurants and grocery stores.
Baked – Slow cooked in the oven to obtain the consistency of a casserole. The noodles may be less firm, and the dish may have pieces of cheesy crust throughout. This approach is most popular with foodies who grew up in the South, or who appreciate Southern Cooking.
Broiled – The pasta is mixed with cheese and/or cream, and placed in a Commercial Salamander Broiler. Next, the dish is broiled until a brown crust forms on top.
I grew up eating my Mother and Grandmother’s slow cooked Baked Southern Casserole. To me, there is nothing like it! I actually enjoy all of my Southern Cooking on day two, after it’s had a chance to bake and sit. It forms more of a cheese square versus a melt, but the taste is so much richer to me.
When is it never OK to mess with macaroni? Such as a bad ingredient for it?
My personal preference for mac’n’cheese is elbow macaroni noodles. I just don’t view the other shapes and sizes as mac’n’cheese. I also enjoy the way the elbow noodle tastes, and how the shape and size gives a nice blend of both cheese and noodle, versus too much noodle with some of the others. Often, Chef’s will use the other shapes because the cream or cheese sauce holds better. As a Southern baked #maclover – show me the macaroni!
On another note, I love it when customers and employees come up with new ideas to “mess” with our mac’n’cheese! We do a “Wacky Wednesday” and we have made everything from “Señor Mac” with Chorizo and Jalapeños to “Pan Peas Mac” with Pancetta and Sugar Snap Peas. In the future, we will even do a Spam Mac, at the suggestion of a few customers. Messing with your mac is simple: Pick any of your favorite meats, veggies, and spices and add it in. I try to eat less than 4 ounces of mac’n’cheese (one serving), and “messing” with my mac makes it fun to eat every day.
In your family, who made the best mac and cheese and why?
My Mother. She knew how to blend the cheese with the macaroni perfectly. As a Single Mom fighting with Mental Illness yet successfully raising three kids, she sometimes used what we call “Government Cheese.” And even THAT was delicious!
Do you have vegetarian and vegan options at your restaurant?
75 percent of our mac’n’cheese is vegetarian. We are working on a vegan option which will have cashew cheese, so stay tuned!
When you are at home reaching for comfort food, what type of mac and cheese do you cook?
Having owned a restaurant for two years, I eat mac’n’cheese almost daily at work. So it’s rare for me to make it at home. However, I still cook for every holiday, whether I am cooking for 2 or 20 people. I always make my Kelly Chapman’s Original Southern Baked Casserole. It’s super cheesy with Sharp Cheddar Cheese. I slow cook it until it is slightly brown on top. My friends and family often bring containers to the house just to load up on the leftovers (and of course enjoy that “Day Two” flavor).