“I’ve had a bit of an obsession with mac n’ cheese from a very young age. The mac n’ cheese that we make at our restaurant, ‘Le Cheese’ is still based off of my mom’s recipe, which is one of the first things I learned to cook, and one of the only things I know how to cook really well. That obsession continued into my adult life, and it also became such a cornerstone of our business when we started Le Cheese.
Mac N’ Cheese Week started in 2015 after the first summer at Le Cheese. In the first winter, we did a pop-up restaurant and by the second winter, we wanted to keep the momentum going. So we came up with the idea of Mac N’ Cheese Week. Our idea was to get a couple of restaurants that we knew made really good food and to offer them a platform to get creative and increase visibility during winter. We took a collaborative approach to it, getting about a dozen restaurants to sign up during the first year. Right before the festival launched, we got flooded with requests from several other restaurants that also wanted to participate, which we weren’t expecting at all! The second year we expanded and did it with over 50 restaurants. Now we’re in year three and we’re up to almost 90 restaurants between Montreal & Quebec City.
Mac n’ cheese is our top seller and when we do events with the truck, we sell hundreds of hundreds of pounds of mac n’ cheese, which is insane. We realized it was the perfect vessel for most restaurants because it can be reinvented in so many different ways. It’s one of those nostalgic foods that everybody had growing up. It’s really fun to see little kids and adults enjoying mac n’ cheese. It works for all ages and it’s so versatile. It can be dressed up to be more gourmet, like a lobster mac n‘ cheese or one with truffles, or you can go the simple and classic route, like creating a classic 3 cheddar.
We always work strictly with Quebec cheeses, to support local business, so we partnered with a local cheese supplier for Mac N’ Cheese Week that was able to offer great quality cheeses at a special price to all of our participating restaurants.
I don’t only eat mac n’ cheese… I eat a lot of grilled cheese too. My girlfriend always asks me to make grilled cheese sandwiches. Lately I’ve also been cooking a lot of Asian food. You get tired of eating what you’re always working with in the food business, so you tend to go in the opposite direction.
One of my other go-tos right now is a salmon tartare, because it’s fast, delicious, and tasty. I’m also a sucker for all comfort food, like chicken-pot pie, lasagna. You can’t go wrong, especially on a rainy, cold day!
I love meeting all the restaurants who we partner with and getting to try all the mac n’ cheese! I always joke about how I somehow managed to create my dream job from when I was ten years old, which is pretty cool. My least favourite part is the unavoidable stress that sometimes pops up, with all the organization involved. A lot of little things can happen at odd hours of the day and night, but it comes along with scaling up and putting on an awesome Mac N’ Cheese Week.
We’re really thinking that we can develop to a national scale. We’d love to bring it across Canada to cities like Vancouver and Ottawa. We’ve already had an edition in Toronto last year, which was a success. We’re excited to revisit that market and we see lots of potential in the cities in Canada. We’ve been seeing lots of success so we’re excited to continue making it even bigger. When I was doing research for Le Cheese, we eat more Mac N’ Cheese per capita in Canada than any other country in the world! It’s a very North American comfort food, so we’re aiming to go as big as we can and keep the momentum going.”