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REVIEW: The 2012 Grilled Cheese Champions Are Crowned

Tanaya Ghosh |
May 9, 2012 | 10:29 p.m. PDT

Food Editor

Attendees sampled and judged sandwiches at the The 10th Annual Grilled Cheese Invitational (Photos by Tanaya Ghosh / Neon Tommy)
Attendees sampled and judged sandwiches at the The 10th Annual Grilled Cheese Invitational (Photos by Tanaya Ghosh / Neon Tommy)
On a hot and sunny Saturday, the 10th Annual Grilled Cheese Invitational commenced at the Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena.

With over 65 contestants vying for the title of Grilled Cheese Champion, they did everything they could to stand out on the last Saturday in April.

They incorporated unordinary ingredients such as home-cured duck bacon, squid ink and masala, as well as creative garnishes such as paper dinosaur heads, candied $5 bills, and rose petals.

There were four heats of competition throughout the day, as well as photo ops, free samples of grilled cheese, potato chips, drinks and pickles, and even a "cheesy" costume contest.

In four different categories of grilled cheese, ranging from traditional to dessert, trophies were awarded to the best of the best. The audience could partake in the judging if they had VIP status, and I must say it was a delicious and exciting privilege, albeit cholesterol-laden.

That being said, almost every bite of those grilled cheeses was worth the insane caloric content. With names such as "My Big Fat Grilled Cheese" and "The Lovekraft," there was clearly never a dull moment in any of the four heats.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the day was that for the amateur Honey Pot dessert sandwich category, a vegan grilled cheese won first place. The "Friggin' Figgin Vegan" winning sandwich consisted of figs, olive bread, vegan mozzarella cheese, fig butter, and an orange reduction glaze.

Additionally, the vegan "Aurora Borealis" won third in the Honey Pot professional category using sourdough bread with vegan mozzarella, vegan cream cheese and vegan butter, plus maple syrup, brandy-soaked peaches, and blueberry and strawberry reductions.

"This Little Piggy" had sourdough bread, pulled pork, cheddar & jack cheese, provolone, prosciutto, mustard, roasted chiles, and a Chimichurri sauce. It was so delicious that it was crowned All-Around Champion.

The "Blame it on the Alcohol" was one of the most intriguing sandwiches, for the sheer fact that it had different liquors infused into each element of the sandwich. The homemade stout and oat bread complemented the tequila-soaked pickles, white wine garlic mayo, spiced rum onion jam, and bourbon-glazed bacon. As if that weren't enough, the delicious sandwich also boasted three types of cheese, and potato chips!

There were also food trucks featuring grilled cheese, such as the Border Grill Truck and the The Grilled Cheese Truck. In fact, the latter brought two trucks, and both had very long lines.

For the costume contest, there was a variety of cheese-centric costumes that contestants such as "Toastbuster" (a cheese-themed Ghostbuster getup) and "Cheesus" (a guy resembling Jesus) wore.

It was a cheese, bread, butter, and trophy-filled day of fun and sun. Stay tuned for the 11th annual Grilled Cheese Invitational. The crowd awaits to see what extreme levels can be reached for the American classic, the grilled cheese.

You can reach Tanaya Ghosh here, or follow her on Twitter.



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