This post, originally published at 7:27 a.m., has been updated to include the winners.
The 11th annual Grilled Cheese Invitational, held this past Saturday, had something for everyone. It's almost impossible to express the level of silliness and the abject joy of people gorging on sandwiches at a seamlessly executed event, but we'll try -- and also recap what you missed, and maybe inspire you to attend (again) next year.
This year, the spectacle was held at L.A. Center Studios, on a bright and sunny day with the city skyline as a backdrop. More than 5,500 people showed up -- many in costume -- to enjoy the incredible assortment of grilled cheese-themed food trucks (Who knew there were SO many?) and free samples including Krugerman Pickles, Cabot cheese and Jarritos soda, and to try their hand at the Breville do-it-yourself panini station.
The affable Mayor of Cheese, Montano Sokolow, greeted attendees and, for the first time in the event's history, Richard Cheese and Lounge Against the Machine performed to a large, very appreciative crowd.
When it came to the competition, as in past years, there were four categories: Love, American Style, The Missionary Position, The Honey Pot and The Kama Sutra. Or, in plain terms: White bread and orange cheese; any bread and any cheese; a savory grilled cheese with additional ingredients; and a dessert concoction.
The Beer Belly-sponsored beer garden was set up with a $5 donation going to the Rotary Club. For that price and proof of legal drinking age, ticket holders were given samples of beer from Lagunitas and New Belgian Brewery, among others.
When it came time to start the actual competition, 500 or so participants who bought judging tickets swarmed up against a barrier, while on the other side, the 80-plus contestants started grilling as quickly as possible. As sandwiches were finished, the crowd begged, hooted and hollered for samples being doled out by volunteers, who rewarded some while unfortunately ignoring others. In the happy chaos, the loudest shouters got the most rewards.
The creative force behind the whole shebang, Tim Walker, resplendent in a neon orange fez, presided as the Executive Judging began, with luminaries such as chef Mark Peel and Rico Gagliano of the Dinner Party Download podcast weighing in.
And who did take home the gold? The overall winner of the amateur category was Lucky McNulty and his Recumbent Vicar -- a seven-cheese wonder. Congrats to him and to all of the participants. A cheesy good time was had by all.
Turn the page for the results...