Grilled Cheese Invitational Photos, Results & Judge’s Field Report
The 2nd 8th Annual Grilled Cheese Invitational: Cherish The Cheese
The LA culinary scene is great, but if I eat one more pork belly sweet potato hiramasa short rib foie gras terrine beet salad, I may regurgitate. Every once in a while you just want to say fuck it, give me a goddamn grilled cheese sandwich. And that is what makes the annual Grilled Cheese Invitational such a refreshingly joyous event. Every year, hundreds–both professional and amateur–put their grill cheesing skills on display for the hungry public.
Don’t get me wrong. The GCI is weird. Really weird. There is cheesy poetry. Something called “Cheese Calling.” Some dude named the “Mayor of Cheese.” There’s even a “Dr. Cheese.” Then there are the sandwiches themselves, which vary from the basic to the downright friggin’ odd (frozen carmelized Twinkie grilled cheese, anyone?).
One could argue though that the event’s eccentricity is what makes the GCI so special. Annually, jocks, dweebs, foodies, kids, parents, chefs, home cooks and Goths congregate over their love of bread-butter-cheese. The 2011 GCI was no different. Even though it has rapidly expanded from its intimate initial incarnation in founder Tim Walker’s apartment into a 7,000-8,000 attendee, major-sponsored downtown movie studio parking lot bacchanal, it still very openly lets its freak flag fly.
It started all about grilled cheese and it remains all about grilled fricking cheese. There are four categories: Love, American Style (only white bread, orange cheese and butter), The Missionary Position (any type of bread, butter and cheese), The Kama Sutra (savory in nature, any type of bread, cheese and additional ingredients, but the sandwich must be at least 60% cheese) and The Honey Pot (sweet in nature, any kind of bread, butter, cheese and additional ingredients, but must be at least 60% cheese).
Photo gallery & Mike’s winning pick below.
Select samples are available to the judging public, while pre-appointed Executive Judges taste as many as their body allows (it scares me to estimate how many I “tested,” but it’s roughly in the 60-75 range). Then both the Executive Judges and the Public Judges fill out ballots on each sandwich-–questions range from cheesiness to wackiness. At the end of the four heats, each Executive Judge chooses a personal favorite. These winners, along with the highest vote-garnering sandwiches from the different categories (combination of both the public and Judge votes), receive a trophy. And, more so, grilled cheese glory.
The 2011 Losanjealous Trophy went to The Castro Maestro, a blindingly delicious combination of provolone cheese, Swiss cheese, carnitas, prosciutto, chimichurri, pickles, Dijon mustard, butter and “lots of love” in between two perfect slices of sourdough bread. The man behind The Castro Maestro, Mathew Michaud, known as the ‘Rockin’ Chef,’ told us all about the creation of his beautiful sandwich: “The Castro Maestro is translated as the Castro Master. It is my variation on the Cuban Sandwich which is as common as the cheeseburger in Latin America. I replaced the ham for prosciutto, the Bollio bun for sourdough bread, a homemade chimichurri, and quality cheeses. Dijon in place of yellow mustard also helped to elevate its ’gourmet’ appeal.”
Congrats to Mathew and all the other cheesy champions. See you kids next year.
Photos by Lindsay Flinn