Grilled cheese and mac and cheese throwdown? Head to this weekend fest

The Cheese Fest in Cincinnati will offer for sampling over 300 national and international cheeses, along with craft beer, wine and bourbon. CONTRIBUTED
The Cheese Fest in Cincinnati will offer for sampling over 300 national and international cheeses, along with craft beer, wine and bourbon. CONTRIBUTED

For the third year, the Atlanta-based Gourmet Foods International and their sponsors will bring their Cheese Fest to Cincinnati. Courtesy of the business GFI does with Kroger, Cincinnati is one of only three cities to host the Cheese Fest each year. In addition to the over 300 cheeses from over 70 national and international vendors, here are four reasons why, if you’re a cheese lover, the Cheese Fest is a must-attend.


Michael and Charlie Kalish, otherwise known as the Cheese Twins, will be making their debut appearance at the Cheese Fest this year. The Cheese Twins appear frequently around the country on various local television shows and on Food Network shows such as “The Great Food Truck Race” and “Chopped.”

Specializing in cheese food pairing recommendations, the Cheese Twins will pair the following at the Cheese Fest:

  • Vermont Creamery's Bonne Bouche, an ash-ripened goat cheese, with Sopressata (Italian dry salami)
  • Vivaldi's DOP Taleggio and Trois Petits (cornichons, or French pickles) with Veroni's Roasted Ham
  • Spring Brook Farm's Tarentaise (French Alpine-style cheese made from organic milk) with La Quercia's Prosciutto Americano (dry-cured ham)
  • Vivaldi's Gorgonzola Dolce (creamy Italian cheese) with Veroni's Mortadella (large Italian sausage)


Every year, various Cincinnati restaurants compete to produce the best mac and cheese and best grilled cheese. There is a People’s Choice award and an award given by a panel of experts.

This year, the Meltdown gladiators are: Eli’s BBQ vs. Tom+Chee vs. B&A Street Kitchen. The Macdown competitors are B&A Street Kitchen vs. Court Street Lobster Bar vs. Midway Café vs. Keystone Bar & Grill.


Besides the Cheese Twins, the Cheese Fest’s educational tent will also feature several instructional sessions and demonstrations. One demo will consist of Kroger corporate chefs suggesting unconventional cheeses to add to your recipes. They will include cheesecake using honey goat cheese and a mint-flavored ricotta dessert with mascarpone sauce.


As with every Cincinnati Cheese Fest, there will be cheese pairings with food, wine and Kentucky bourbon. Baltimore’s Biltmore Winery will provide the wines. While the Cheese Fest partnered with Christian Moerlein for craft beer last year, this year the beers will be provided by Terrapin (Georgia), Braxton Brewing Co. (Covington), March First Brewing (Cincinnati), Tecate (Mexico) and Heineken. Molly Wellmann, mixologist extraordinaire and owner of Wellmann Brands, will provide information on the four varieties of bourbon present.


What: Cincinnati Cheese Fest

Where: Smale Riverfront Park, 100 W. Mehring Way, Cincinnati

When: Sept. 9, 2-10 p.m.

Cost: Admission is $10; wine, beer, and bourbon pairings are an additional $10