"World's Best" is a mindset.

Image: Amber Fouts

Kurt Beecher Dammeier planted Beecher’s at Pike Place Market in 2003, hoping to promote more traditional foodways, without coming off as pretentious or fussy. As he puts it, “We wanted to think of cheese as beer, rather than cheese as wine.” He made sure his cheesemaking operation sold its product in the form of hearty comfort food—grilled cheese, a now-bygone potatoes au gratin, and cups of mac and cheese. Dammeier’s staff adapted that last recipe from one over at sibling business Pasta and Co. They used sturdy penne, its thick walls suited to holding the classic mornay sauce made with Beecher’s Flagship. The version that finally passed Dammeier’s taste test added a dash of garlic powder and chipotle chili powder to balance all that cheese. “We get about five complaints a year that it’s too spicy,” he says. “Which means it’s exactly right.”

Two years later, QFC requested a frozen version; then both Martha Stewart and Oprah, the twin pillars of pre-influencer tastemaking, extolled its gooey charms. Today a gluten-free version wins raves, too. While “World’s Best” is part of the official name, it’s not an earned designation, but a direct quote that dates back to the founder himself. Handing out cups of mac and cheese in the early days, Dammeier assured customers, “It’s the world’s best.” It became his schtick. “We’ve never entered a competition with it,” he says. “Because where do you go from ‘World’s Best’?” 

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