Tomorrow marks the 10th annual Grilled Cheese Invitational, held this year at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. Undoubtedly there are a few devotees out there who can attest to sandwich superiority, having frequented the event over the last decade. Competitor registration is closed and it's too late to be a judge, but for those of us stumbling upon the occasion for the first time, here's a look at what's between the bread.
Most importantly, what differentiates a grilled cheese sandwich from a grilled sandwich with cheese? For the purposes of the Invitational, four categories will be accepting submissions, in all of which cheese represents 60%-100% of interior ingredients. Amateur and professional entrants are separated so that you don't have to compete with the seasoned veterans of Kitchen 24, last year's Honey Pot winner.
The first category, Love, American Style, adheres to the strictest of grilled cheese regulations– white bread, butter, American or Cheddar cheese. The Missionary Position is more forgiving, allowing any kind of bread, butter and cheese. The Kama Sutra is any savory sandwich containing bread, butter, cheese and whatever game-changers the entrant can devise. And finally, the Honey Pot, comparable to the previous category but with sweet ingredients to the point of dessert.
Such quantities of salty and sandwich are bound to agitate great thirst among attendees. Look for the beer tent featuring Lagunitas, New Belgium and Stone Brews. And what sandwich event would be respectable without live bands, cooking demos and poetry and costume contests (how better to mock your fellow Angelenos?) Even if you forgot to register as a judge can still make your privileged opinion known at the People's Choice awards.
If you're curious about how competitors are faring, they've brought their own ingredients and are permitted only one sandwich per category, although they have to prepare 20 consistent judges' samples. To even the playing field (no liquid nitrogen ice cream makers allowed) competitor's kits include 7-inch skillets, knives and cutting boards. For the greater good, kits also come armed with hand sanitizer, disposable gloves and safe food handling info.
There are rumors circulating that this could be the final installment of the Invitational. When questioned about such a finale, founder Tim Walker told us, “Rumors are just that. The Cheese will live on.” Rest easy, dairy nuts. Cheesy opportunities will arise again next year.
The Grilled Cheese Invitational will take place from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. in Lot K of the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.Tickets are $15 and soon to sell out. Can't attend this year but don't want to miss out? Check out our very popular guide to the 10 best grilled cheese sandwiches in Los Angeles.