Most of us grew up eating Kraft macaroni and cheese for dinner, savoring every bite of the creamy yellow sauce and tender elbow macaroni. If we were lucky, really lucky, our parents would mix a sliced hot dog into the neon dish, making it something extra special. Some of us, guiltily, still occasionally indulge in the ubiquitous blue box, but the average grownup has evolved to find it bland and one dimensional, a food whose nuclear-orange flavor comes from a proprietary blend of nostalgia and preservatives that only powdered cheese (“just add milk!”) can provide.
Then, many of us macaroni and cheese-loving kids grew into adults with an appreciation for the world of artisan cheese. Reflecting the passion of their producers and embodying their place of origin, small-production cheeses are superior to their industrially manufactured counterparts. Nuances of flavor and texture shine through, drawing much-deserved attention to a series of important factors such as the flavor profile of the milk used to make the cheese, the diet of the animals that provided the milk, the environment the cheese was cured in, and the carefully selected molds that ripple through each block.
Really, each artisan cheese is a masterpiece, and our goal is to showcase these little works of art by displaying them on a new canvas: macaroni and cheese.
The mac and cheese we grew up with needs a makeover, something that combines nostalgia with quality ingredients to produce dishes that are both classic and chic. We aim to solve two problems at the same time: too many people view macaroni and cheese through the limited scope of the “blue box,” and many self-proclaimed gourmands still see cooking with artisan cheeses as near heresy to the Dairy Gods. The truth is, many of these cheeses lend themselves beautifully to cooking, and macaroni and cheese is the perfect platform for showcasing their unique personas. Whether it’s taking some freshly pressed chèvre and tossing it with tender spears of asparagus and a few lashings of lime juice, or melting some Fiscalini bandage-wrapped cheddar into a mustard béchamel, ours are dishes that both comfort and intrigue.
Each of our macaroni and cheese dishes are prepared with complimentary flavors and ingredients, not unlike constructing a cheese plate for a dinner party of your closest friends. The core concept of the macaroni and cheese aesthetic remains, but we’ve elevated comfort food to a new level. Each ingredient is carefully selected to highlight the nuanced qualities of the cheese while the familiar concept of the dish remains.
Melt will include over 40 full-color photographs, shot by food photographer Matt Armendariz and styled by food stylist Adam Pearson. Matt and Adam’s style perfectly captures the aesthetic we have have in mind: macaroni and cheese is an art form, from both a visual and culinary standpoint.