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How Mac and Cheese Destroyed a Toronto Neighborhood

Yesterday, residents of Liberty Park woke up to an apocalyptic scene of trash and melted cheddar. "It was just like a bomb went off,” one witness said.
Photo via Flickr user reid-bee

On Sunday, residents of the quiet Toronto neighborhood of Liberty Village woke up to an apocalyptic scene. Piles of trash were strewn about, with a unsettlingly cheddary smell to the air.

"It was just like a bomb went off," one witness told local news outlet CP24.

But Liberty Village wasn't looted, nor was it the site of an attack by some paramilitary dairymen. Instead, it was struck by Canadians' savage, insatiable craving for pasta and cheese.


MAKE IT: Matty Matheson's Cheeto Mac and Cheese

The problem started on Friday, when the neighborhood hosted Canada's very first Mac and Cheese Festival. Organizers expected around 5,000 attendees. But by the festival's end, about 46,000 had showed up.

The event brought together 23 chefs from across the city to pit their best mac and cheese dishes against one another, to be judged by the public, for a grand prize of $5,000.

Mac and cheese festival in Toronto. Looks like a blast.

— EvilMario (@JALinTO) June 8, 2015

Apparently, the public was more than willing to do so. According to some reports, garbage, vomit, and the half-eaten remains of a cheesy fest gone awry littered the streets and sidewalks Sunday morning. An ostensibly friendly festival had quickly devolved into an unhinged bacchanalia of carbs and cheddar.

Only hours before, thousands had gathered to taste mac and cheese poutine, mac-stuffed spring rolls, mac and cheese made with udon, and a gut-bomb take on Frito pie filled to the brim with noodles. One restaurant, Junked Food Co., even served a sweet blueberry cheesecake ice cream with Jolly Rancher mac and cinnamon toast crumble.

For this, visitors reportedly waited for hours on end to gorge themselves on their beloved mac from the two dozen vendors, several of whom quickly ran out of food when the mob of Torontonians descended upon them.

Festival organizer Philip Suos blamed a lack of support staff for the debacle. "It was unfortunate. We had a few staff that weren't able to show up and what not so we were left scrambling as to who would be available for cleanup," he told CP24. Suos told the Toronto Star that some volunteers were "scared off" by the sheer mass of ravenous mac and cheese fans and called in sick.

He apologized for the mess, but stood by his belief that the festival was an overwhelming success, noting that "next year is going to be bigger and better." Local media, however, was quick to label the mac attack a disaster. "Mac and JEEZ!: Festival leaves Liberty Village filthy" read the headline in the Bayview News. Commenters on the Toronto Star compared the debacle to last year's Grilled Cheese Festival fiasco, which was grossly oversold and left many prospective attendees out in the February cold.

The #TOGrilledCheeseFest is a massive train wreck. Huge lines. Under resourced, way oversold. — Kate Hudson (@k88hudson) March 1, 2014

You simply cannot trust Torontonians and their raging hunger for cheese. God help them.