Cheese-us Christ: The 2013 Grilled Cheese Invitational


No doubt about it, last week was a tough week. When it finally came to the weekend we were in desperate need of distraction. Something fun. Something entertaining. Something different. Something fucking weird.

While many hit the 10 and flocked to the Coachella Valley desert to get their dose of musical strange, more than five thousand smartly stuck around Los Angeles and attended the annual cheesy bacchanalia known as the Grilled Cheese Invitational. No longer a spring chicken, now in it’s eleventh incarnation, the GCI stands as one of LA’s most premiere–if not, odd (-ly entertaining)–annual food events.

This time around, 150 competitors, pros and amateurs alike, hit the Los Angeles Center Studios pavement to compete in three highly contested heats all in the name of bread, butter and cheese glory.

Per usual, the four sandwich categories were Love, American Style (cheddar or American cheese, white bread and butter – only), The Missionary Position (any type of cheese, bread and butter – nothing else), The Kama Sutra (savory sandwich with bread, cheese and butter – plus any additional topping as long as the interior is 60% cheese) and The Honey Pot (basically the Kama Sutra, but a sweet, non-savory, sandwich).

Also, like usual, there were some tremendous sandwiches. While it is always hard to narrow down a Top 5, I know you’re all lazy and just want to look at grilled cheese food porn pics anyway, so without further ado, here are the five best grilled cheeses from the 2013 Grilled Cheese Invitational…

(Note: this year Executive Judges were asked to only judge one of the three heats, so these were the best entries in the 1st Heat.)

5. Better Than Apple
Bread: Croissant bread pudding
Cheese: Gouda, mascarpone
Additional Ingredients: Vanilla, apple pie ice cream, caramel drizzle.
Comments: Pretty much brilliant.

4. Powder Finger
Bread: Sourdough.
Cheese: Homemade American cheese and homemade cheddar powder
Comments: They dehydrated the cheddar themselves and then covered the homemade American cheese sandwich in it. That’s some Walter White-level chemistry stuff right there.

3. Purple Haze
Bread: Sourdough
Cheese: Fontina, smoked gouda
Additional Ingredients: Roasted plum tomato, braised bacon and leeks with horseradish crème, mustard and herb-infused oil dipping sauces.
Comments: Too many ingredients often doom grilled cheese sandwiches. Not in this case.

2. Collective Consciousness
Bread: Homemade bread (sort of a sourdough/white/peasant hyrbrid)
Cheese: Sharp cheddar (from Joseph Farms)
Comments: Super simple, but super awesome. The homemade breads always shine in this competition.

And the 2013 Unemployed Eater/Losanjealous CHAMPION…

1. The Potsticker
Bread: Sourdough.
Cheese: Pepper jack.
Additional ingredients: pork dumpling filling, scallions, fried wontons and Sriracha aioli with a soy dumpling dipping sauce.
Comments: Lou Davey came all the way from Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho with this sandwich and there simply wasn’t anything more creative or better in the heat. Tasty and tangy pork mixed perfectly with the pepper jack. The fried wontons in the sandwich were also an expert touch. Something that could have gone so wrong–melding the potsticker with the grilled cheese – went oh so right. By brilliantly
combining these favorites, she left me very little choice in choosing a winner. Going to Idaho any time soon? She’s got a shop full of these sort of concoctions, Meltz
Extreme Grilled Cheese

Photos by Aaron Horwitz