Mac and cheese with red pepper coulis, chicken breasts and sweet italian sausage
Bosch LLC (Broadview, Ill.)
Iraj Fernando, executive chef/manager for Southern Foodservice Management Inc., created this dish as a play on a traditional comfort food. Fernando says that, as a chef, he becomes a storyteller. “I want everyone to come to the café and be able to recognize something from their past,” he says. “This is one of those dishes. It’s a family-style recipe with rustic and bold flavors.” Fernando says the dish’s classic white sauce is accentuated with flavors from his home country, Sri Lanka.
Tuscany-style mac & cheese
Rex UNC Healthcare (Raleigh, N.C.)
Ryan Conklin, executive chef, says this take on mac and cheese is served in the retail café at a cook-to-order station. Conklin developed the recipe to take advantage of the fresh basil grown in the hospital’s garden. Conklin says that being in the South, mac and cheese is “very dear to our customers. But we sometimes like to trick it out a bit and offer a mac and cheese bar that enables us to introduce some new flavors but keep with the comfort food concept that makes it so popular.”
Picante mac and cheese
Union Public Schools (Tulsa, Okla.)
“Everybody loves queso. This is like a queso pasta dish,” says Eli Huff, executive chef and culinary operations coordinator. Huff says using the tricolored tortilla chips adds color to the dish, making it more enticing for students—although he admits students already love mac and cheese. Huff discovered the chip trick when he was working in a restaurant and he ran out of tortilla strips. He substituted with the chips and it’s been working ever since.