Snapshots from the 2011 Grilled Cheese Invitational in Los Angeles

[Photographs: Kelly Bone]

It's a simple motto: Bread-cheese-butter-victory. Over 200 amateur cooks and professional chefs answered this call to arms at the Grilled Cheese Invitational on April 25, last weekend in Los Angeles. Cheeseaholics mobbed Center Studios downtown to gorge on thousands of sandwiches involving everything from Krispy Kremes to duck foie gras.

Contestants could compete in four categories:

  • Love, American Style: White bread, butter, orange cheese (American or Cheddar). NOTHING ELSE.
  • The Missionary Position: Any type of bread, butter and cheese. No additional ingredients.
  • The Kama Sutra: A sandwich of the savory nature, with any type of bread, butter and cheese PLUS additional ingredients, and the interior ingredients must be at least 60% cheese.
  • The Honey Pot: Any kind of bread, any kind of butter, and any kind of cheese, and the interior ingredients of the sammich must be at least 60% cheese, PLUS additional ingredients, and with an overall flavor that is sweet and would best be served as dessert.

Some Highlights

Morning Melt

Crispy waffles fried in maple butter, sandwiching a fried egg, ham, bacon, cheddar, and American cheese. It's everything you want for breakfast in one bite.

Donut Grilled Cheese

Anything that begins with a Krispy Kreme doughnut is probably going to end well. Fried in homemade butter, the doubly crispy doughnut is slathered in strawberry cream cheese with slices of queso fresco and fresh strawberries.

You did WHAT with a Twinkie?!

The liveliest table at the event was bursting with sugary flames. This unusual "sandwich" begins with a Twinkie stuffed with mascarpone, ricotta, bacon, cheddar, chives and banana. Fried in sugar and coconut, the caramelized ball is thrown into an ice bath, solidifying the hot gooey interior inside a hard candy shell.


Clockwise from top: The chefs line up to grill, The Big Cheese samples a sammich, Hungry crowds clamor for grilled cheese, Cheesus Christ [Photographs: Kelly Bone]

For an additional $5, attendees could purchase a judge's pass entitling them to at least two competitive grilled cheeses and voting rights. Hungry crowds braved long lines at vendor tents and food trucks, while drinkers took their cheesy booty into the beer garden. Others beat the heat on the lawn with free Izze sodas and bottles of water. The event's main sponsor, Tillamook, offered complimentary cubes of cheese and bite-sized grilled cheese, ensuring that nobody went hungry.

For those who couldn't be there, check out the slideshow for the showstoppers. And for every grilled cheese shown here, there were ten others (!!)