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Rock City Eatery's Chef Nikita Sanches Makes Parmesan Bowl Mac 'n' Cheese

Welcome to The Hot Dish, a behind the scenes look at the making of the dishes of the moment. Photographers Michelle and Chris Gerard visited Rock City Eatery, where Nikita Sanches prepared the restaurant's popular mac 'n' cheese.

Brenna Houck is a Cities Manager for the Eater network. She previously edited Eater Detroit and reported for Eater. You can follow her on the internet at @brennahouck.

Many restaurants boast enticing macaroni and cheese recipes, but few serve it in an edible parmesan cheese bowl. It's this unique presentation along with sharp cheesy flavors that sets Rock City Eatery's mac ‘n' cheese apart from the competition. It's not necessarily the most adventurous item on chef Nikita Sanches's eclectic menu that includes dishes like octopus and beef tongue. However, it is one of the restaurant's best sellers, satisfying intrigued palates from across the city.

It all starts with the sauce. The chef doles out a few dollops of yogurt as a gluten-free binder, and mixes it with cream and grated aged cheddar. The parmesan bowl is then prepared by placing grated cheese between two medium-sized bowls, a trick the chef learned through experimentation. "You essentially can make it any size you want. The smaller you go, a little bit more of a pain in the ass it is; the bigger you go, the more chance there is of it cracking and falling apart," he explains.

When an order comes in, the chef measures out an appropriate amount of cheese sauce and cavatappi noodles into a saucepan. He places the mixture over medium heat for several minutes allowing the sauce to reduce. The finished product is then poured hot into the parmesan bowl. "That's when I yell ‘Runner!' and they take it out," Sanches says.

Rock City Eatery

4216 Woodward Avenue, , MI 48201 (313) 265-3729 Visit Website