With more than $30,000 raised and 3,000 plus attendees, the first Mac-N-Cheese Festival along Florida's Emerald Coast was a huge success. Proceeds from the event, hosted by Destin Commons on May 19, benefit The Boys and Girls Clubs of the Emerald Coast. 

The club is a local non-profit organization whose mission is to promote and enhance the development of boys and girls by instilling a sense of competence, usefulness, belonging and influence through its programs focused on academic success, good character and citizenship, and healthy lifestyles.

"Our first Mac-N-Cheese Festival thoroughly out performed our own expectations," said Shervin Rassa, CEO The Boys & Girls Club of the Emerald Coast. "We are extremely thankful to all that attended, all of our cooking participants, Destin Commons, and all of our sponsors for making this first year event an instant hit. Every cent raised through this event will make an impact on the over 4,000 youth we serve on an annual basis. Our team is already working on next year’s event, we look forward to an amazing second year."

The family-friendly event featured gourmet, chef-inspired twists on the South’s favorite comfort food. Local restaurants brought their A-game to compete for the best mac and cheese in town. Visitors were able to sample each vendor and cast their vote. There were three categories in total, Judge's Choice Award, People's Choice Award, and Kid's Choice Award.

Award winners are as follows:

Judge's Choice: Basil and Baxter's Kitchen and Cocktails

People's Choice: Red Fish Taco

Kid's Choice: Panera Bread

"We are thrilled that the inaugural Mac-N-Cheese Festival was such a huge success. Naturally, children and mac and cheese go hand in hand, but the response to this event exceeded everyone’s expectations," said Brooke Zannis, marketing manager, Destin Commons. We are overwhelmed by the support that the community gave to such a worthy organization. The Boys and Girls Clubs are such an integral part of our community and the work that they do with our youth is inspiring, and Destin Commons is just happy that we could play a role in this event."