This spring, wholesale retailer Costco will be testing a vegan mac and cheese at 30 locations in California and Hawaii. Chef Ayinde Howell’s popular Jalapeño & Cheddar Mac & Yease will be available in 32-ounce take-and-bake trays in the prepared foods section of the store. Howell—the former personal chef for musician India.Arie—developed the now-popular Mac & Yease recipe several years ago as a tribute to his great-grandmother Mary’s Sunday supper staple. The jalapeño and cheddar flavor is the same recipe but with the added kick of fresh jalapeños. Costco will be the first retailer to carry this flavor.
“‘A closed mouth don’t get fed’—That’s a saying my Baba [grandmother] used to use a lot. It means you gotta go for it,” Howell told VegNews, referring to himself taking action late last year, when he contacted Costo himself and sent the company the Mac & Yease to try. “My Baba passed on February 22 and I was supposed to start in Costco back in January. It was up in the air as we had no orders. But on February 22, we got the confirmation. This is a big step for a small business, for a food activist, [and] we’re still going for it.”
In 2018, Howell partnered with Whole Foods to bring his mac and cheese to the hot-food bar at 44 locations in the Southern Pacific region (California, Las Vegas, Arizona, Maui, and Oahu) and expanded the option for a limited time at Whole Foods locations in Northern California.