Pepe’s Place, the hole-in-the-wall restaurant on North Avenue in New Rochelle, was recently claimed to be the best place in New York State for mac ’n’ cheese by Southern Living magazine.
“I don’t read the articles, people tell me about them,” says owner and Chef Pepe Manigault.
With the holidays not too far off, I thought it was a good idea to pick Manigault’s brain on why his mac ’n’ cheese is so popular and to offer some cooking tips.
It’s common for some people to make a roux; Manigault uses “Pepe’s flourless béchamel” for his aged reserved cheddar mac ’n’ cheese, using two to three types of cheddar. “Use high quality cheese, and don’t be cheap in your portions,” he adds. And bake it, of course. “I think [unbaked] mac and cheese is like Corn Flakes and skim milk.”
Photos Courtesy Pepe’s Place
Mac ‘n’ cheese with Thai chili shrimp.
Manigault says mac ’n’ cheese is “the holy grail of the African-American table.” And it has to be good, otherwise that can come off as an insult. He credits his mother first and foremost as his inspiration, and his earliest memory of the popular comfort food is making it with her.
“My mother, she was the master,” he says. “I’ve been able to enhance it because of my food knowledge and being in the industry. With a little spirituality, a little love, and some science, studying, you can put out a good dish,” he says.
560 North Ave, New Rochelle
Curious for more insight into everything from health, weddings, and local business happenings to golf and hearty Westchester eating? Make sure to surf through all of our daily blogs.