Need a fun, inexpensive activity in Orlando for your family this weekend?
Look no farther than the Orange County Convention Center, which is the location for the first O-Town MacDown on Saturday. Sponsored by SeaWorld, the competition gives professional chefs and amateur cooks the opportunity to vie for the title of Orlando's Mac-n-Cheese Champion. And attendees will benefit from their efforts with an invitation to sample their creations.
Judges include Emily Ellyn from the Food Network, Orlando Sentinel’s food editor Heather McPherson, WDBO’s news director Joe Kelley, SeaWorld Executive Chef Hector Colon, Louis Perrotte of the American Academy of Chefs Hall of Fame and Disney Chef Michael Bersell.
In addition to the food component, the event will include live entertainment from The SeaWorld Groove Chefs, who transform kitchen gear and BBQ grills into makeshift musical instruments; magician and comedian Tony Brent from the WonderWorks Outta Control Magic Comedy Dinner Show; acoustic guitarist Islay Rodriguez; The Orlando Improv All-Stars; and The Magic and Mayhem Comedy Magic Show.
Celebrity chefs will host cooking demonstrations, too. Look for Emily Ellyn; Jillian Hopke, the owner of Orlando's Jillycakes and a winner on "Cupcake Wars"; Maira Isabel, executive chef at Disney World Golf Courses; Jody McLeod, culinary operations manager at SeaWorld Orlando; and John Radcliff, culinary director for 4R Restaurant Group.
A kids’ fun zone will feature face painting, bounce houses and a macaroni art station, and there will be meet-and-greets from theme-park characters, such as Shamu and Dolly from SeaWorld Orlando. Plus, there will be additional live entertainment designed just for kids. Check out the Mad Scientist Interactive Show; Elevate Live, a group of Central Florida kids ages 5-20 who perform a Top 40 / pop-style singing and dancing show; The Bumbles and The Honey Bees Too, a high-energy educational show for 3- to 8-year-olds; The Literacy Alliance: Scrambled Fairy Tales; and Orlando's Mr. Richard.
Attendance and participation at the O-Town MacDown benefits Give Kids The World Village, a 70-acre, nonprofit resort in Central Florida that provides weeklong, cost-free vacations to children with life-threatening illnesses and their families.
Although the deadline to enter the macaroni-and-cheese cooking competition has passed, tickets to visit the O-Town MacDown still are available. Until 5 p.m. Aug. 22, tickets can be purchased online at a discount. Prices are as follows:
** $10 for adults, which includes all the mac-n-cheese you can eat.
** $5 for kids ages 3-12, which includes all the mac-n-cheese you can eat and the Kids Zone. (Ages 2 and younger are free.)
** $35 for VIP tickets, which includes unlimited mac-n-cheese, premium seating in the VIP area, free O-Town MacDown T-shirt and a free beverage.
Tickets at the door are $15 for adults and $10 for kids. Parking will be discounted to $9 at the convention center.
The event takes place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 23 at the Orange County Convention Center, Hall D2 West concourse.