You can't open a menu these days without spying a listing for mac and cheese. Who would have thought this plebian comfort food would captivate some of the best chefs in town?
"We can't not have it," says Winston Blick, chef/owner of Clementine (5402 Harford Rd., Hamilton, 410-444-1497). And to think the fascination all started with Thomas Jefferson. Evidently, our third president developed a hankering for macaroni pie while in Italy and adapted it with cheese when he returned to the United States, according to The Food Encyclopedia by Jacques L. Rolland and Carol Sherman. Today, each chef glams it up in his own style. Blick adds a variety of ingredients including cheddar, cream cheese, garlic, onions, and tomatoes. "I change it constantly," he admits. At Christopher Daniel (106 W. Padonia Rd., Timonium, 410-308-1800), chef/owner Christopher Ellis goes upscale with Swiss, Parmesan, white American cheese, and lobster (pictured). "We thought we'd try something different," he says. So what's the attraction to this iconic dish? That's easy, says Blick, "It's gooey and cheesy."