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A tasty fund-raiser for charity

COLLINGSWOOD What do beer and mac and cheese have in common? There will be plenty of varieties of both to sample at an April 23 fund-raiser.

A dozen New Jersey restaurants and breweries are expected to participate in the all-you-can-eat tasting of "every conceivable kind of mac and cheese," said Crossroads Programs and the Collingswood Foundation for the Arts, the event sponsors.

The event will be at the Grand Ballroom in Collingswood from 5 to 9 p.m. Attendees must be 21 or older.

"We have Italian mac and cheese, Mexican, Indian, Greek, Middle Eastern, and traditional American," Crossroads CEO Michael Snyder said in a news release. "You may come to the event hungry and thirsty, but I guarantee you won't leave that way."

Crossroads Programs is a charity that works with young people who are abused, abandoned, homeless, or at risk. The Collingswood Foundation for the Arts operates the Grand Ballroom, which holds social events, concerts, and theatrical performances.

Chef Jim Malaby of blueplate in Mullica Hill and Connie Correia, who runs the Pop Shop in Collingswood, both previous tasting winners, promise to deliver delicious dishes.

"This is not your 'made from a box' macaroni and cheese," said Malaby. "When you make this dish from scratch, with great noodles and aromatic, delicious cheeses, you have an excellent source of calcium that just happens to taste great. Macaroni and cheese is not just for kids anymore."

Chef Mark Smith of Tortilla Press and Tortilla Press Cantina plans to add an ethnic flair to his recipe. "Each independent restaurant is adding their own style and flavor to the dish. For instance, we add black beans and salsa to give it a Mexican flavor. Every style change only makes traditional mac and cheese that much better and tastier."

Beer tastings will be offered by Flying Fish Brewery of Somerdale, as well as other New Jersey-based breweries.

Tickets are $35 per person and are available by calling 856-858-1000, Ext. 210. A limited number of tickets will be available at the door.

For more information and a list of participating restaurants and breweries, please contact Lydia Cipriani, 609-880-0210, Ext. 111. - Melanie Burney