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Gourmet Macaroni and Cheese Challenge

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Cooking Challenges for Culinary and FCS Students

Are you looking for a fun and relatively inexpensive cooking challenge for your culinary or family consumer science students similar to the Ramen Challenge? What about a box of mac and cheese?

prostart projects for culinary arts macaroni and cheese challenge

1- Have students brainstorm what they might want to add to a box of mac and cheese to spruce it up. Talking about options, letting them look online for inspiration, all will help them get creative.

2- Show Bon Appetite’s video of the magazine’s chefs competing for the best gourmet macaroni and cheese using a simple box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. This is fun because it shows 8 different ways to use the boxes but it has a few swear words beeped out and one says the “a” word that isn’t beeped out.

This is a fun way to introduce the mac and cheese challenge (there is some bleeped out language in it though)

Chris got new portable butane stove cooking stations for his students so they can work independently on food labs at times. This was a great lab to try out the little stoves and it worked out well!

The individual butane stoves gave students more space and independence to complete a project like this one.

3- Have students brainstorm how they will make the macaroni and cheese to make it “gourmet”. Students can write down their ideas and run them by you before they start. Here is a brainstorming form you can use to help them get ready.

4- Mise en place. Have students mise their areas and set them up with a box of cheap macaroni and cheese and have a “pantry” of ingredients to use available to them. Some ingredients ideas include:

  • garlic cloves or garlic salt
  • salt
  • pepper
  • sriracha sauce or other hot sauces
  • shredded cheddar cheese or other types of cheese
  • sour cream
  • cream cheese
  • bacon bits or crumbled bacon
  • veggies such as green peppers, red peppers, onions, celery, etc.
  • red pepper flakes
  • tomato paste, diced tomatoes, etc.
  • milk or cream
  • chicken breast pieces from a can
  • ham pieces from a can or deli ham
  • can of tuna
  • ground beef
  • garlic

Have students brainstorm ahead of time what ingredients they want to use and then “mise” their stations.

5- Taste test– Have students portion little cups of their mac and cheese for others to taste test. You can do a “blind” judging activity in which someone comes in and judges the best mac and cheese or just have students walk around and taste their classmate’s final products. They do love to share what they made, hopefully, they turn out well enough that you are willing to taste them as well!

Check out our Ramen Challenge blog post for another fun culinary arts project idea! This is similar but can have a unique Asian twist and you can choose to allow students to use the packets that come with the Ramen or not.

Here are a few of the mac and cheese finished products from our students:

culinary arts high school projects
bacon, yum!
homeschool high school culinary arts
mac and cheese pancakes!

Our students were really proud of their creations and felt a lot of ownership of their dishes. They want to do more challenges in the future. We are thinking that our next project will be a brownie box challenge!

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