Winner 1st place, Missionary Category
The Lucky Pierre by Team “Cheesy Melty Goodness” The team name explains it all: the bread is buried under sheets of fried sharp cheddar and parmesan. It’s then stuffed with manchego, gruyere, Swiss and more sharp cheddar and parmesan—served on a fried cheese wedge with a splooge of hot Whiz-based sauce.
Winner 3rd place, Professional Kama Sutra Category
"From Texas with Love" by Flori. A grilled cheese packed with Lone Star love. The homemade cornbread was baked with Frito’s and stuffed with a thick gob of oozy cheddar. And as if that wasn't enough, the sandwich was served with cilantro crema, cheddar cheese crisp and a side of homemade Texas chili for dipping!
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.
Winner 2nd place Honey Pot Category
"i-scream!" By Team Not Now Never. Ice cream usually doesn’t have a place on the grill. With a French toast crust, this interpretive grilled cheese is stuffed with queso ice cream and encircled with a dizzying spiral of butterscotch sauce.
Bacon Jam, Short Rib Leather, Cheddar
This hefty tome of a grilled cheese begins with homemade bacon jam leather stacked with sharp cheddar, then bound with short rib leather. Piled on top is eight-year blue cheese and fontina, all fried in butter with orange zest.
Summer in Cyprus
A bite-sized, pan-fried pita stuffed with slabs of herbed watermelon and fried halloumi cheese. Surrounded by a sea of molten grilled cheeses, the Summer in Cyprus was a refreshing interlude.
Winner 1st place, Professional Karma Sutra Category
"The Castro-Maestro" by m2rockinche. In a competition like this, creativity can go awry. As this winning grilled cheese proves, sticking with a classic can be the best path. This perfectly executed Cubano sandwich takes carnitas and mingles it with provolone, swiss, prosciutto, chimichurri, and pickles on sourdough bread, slathered with Dijon mustard and butter.
Mozzarella Instead of Bread
Nothing in the phrase “grilled cheese” says bread, does it? Like KFC’s Double Down, this team figured out how to cut out most of the carbs in their sandwich, swaddling their goat cheese, prosciutto and onion jam sandwich between two slabs of panko crusted mozzarella.
Best Use of Duck
Duck was a popular ingredient at this year’s Invitational. This steaming pan of gooey Fontina Val d’Aosta cheese, duck foie gras and duck terrine caught everyone’s attention. It was nestled between thick slices of Rockenwagner white bread, and crowned with "unripened" green tomato jam and a balsamic reduction. The entire sandwich was then fried in a bubbling cauldron of duck fat.
Winner 2nd place, Karma Sutra Category
"Mi Scusi" by Team Cheesy Charlie. Is there anyone who doesn’t love the combination of mozzarella, tomato sauce, fresh basil and parmesan cheese? Throw in a mustachioed griller, and you’ve got this winner.
The Closest Thing to Molecular Gastronomy
This French onion based sandwich starts with French bread that's grilled with gouda, asiago, three-hour caramelized onion and truffle butter, then topped with a alginate sphere of homemade beef broth. Biting into the sandwich, the broth explodes into a cheesy mouthful of soup.
Crème Brûlée Inspired
Arguably the most elegant one out there. The bread is immersed in raw sugar then caramelized to a glistening crisp in a hot pan. Filled with vanilla bean mascarpone, this sandwich has the brittle bite and creamy heart of authentic crème brûlée.
Nuts, Nutella, Horeseradish Cheddar
Served up by an enthusiastic duo, "the Nuts of Wonder" came flying off the grill filled with sweet cheese and an unexpected bite. The sliced baguette is fried in butter, brown sugar, and crushed almonds with a filling of brie, goat cheese, spiced dates and Nutella. But what was that bite lingering in the back of the throat? Horseradish cheddar!
Rattlesnake and Rabbit Sausage
From Wurstküche in downtown Los Angeles, the rattlesnake and rabbit sausage was slathered in chipotle butter and grilled pepper jack between thin slices of homemade chipotle jalapeño bread. The crispy golden sandwich was drizzled with an avocado, tomatillo, tequila, tarragon and cilantro reduction.
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.
Grilled Cheese Petit Fours
This unassuming petit four of a grilled cheese begins with homemade chocolate bread, mascarpone and a cream cheese filling. Drizzled with strawberry caramel, the sandwich is finished with Cool Whip, fresh strawberry, and the kinetic kick of strawberry Pop Rocks.
You did WHAT with a Twinkie?!
The liveliest table at the event was bursting with sugary flames. The chef drenched her sandwiches in an ice bath while tossing Twinkies into the judge’s pen. 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.