What this year's Grilled Cheese Invitational brought in quantity was not only saturated fat and carbohydrates but flair, with a vegan twist. There was plenty of exhibitionism on display yesterday at the Rose Bowl — from the bearers of the Kraft-singles skirts to the stilt walkers of March Fourth Marching Band.
Eyebrow-raising ingredients in the Missionary and Kama Sutra categories included quail egg, habanero pepper, SoyRizo, masala, squid ink and octopus. But the real shocker of the day was when the Frickin' Figgin Vegan Sandwich took first place in the Honey Pot (amateur) category. To veteran grilled cheese lover and founder of the GCI Tim Walker, a sandwich winning for sandwich's sake (which happened to be vegan) was “an event horizon at the Grilled Cheese Invitational.” Turn the page for this year's results.
The March Fourth Marching band was the exhibitionist lovechild of Steampunk throwback and Village People camp, entertaining cheese eaters with vibrant music and stilt walkers. For those desiring an adult beverage to accompany both spectacle and sandwich, the local beer selection was particularly laudable. Appearances by Stone and New Belgium were expected and welcome, but it was pours from Craftsmen, Ladyface, El Segundo and Monkish that had us blessing the god of grilled cheese for throwing a party.
While we delighted in sandwich samples such as Pimento from Melt and Pesto Perfecto from Mix 'n' Munch, it was the Grilled Cheese Truck's Fully Loaded — an interior of macaroni and cheese, smoked barbecue pork and caramelized onion — that had us wondering if we could stomach more. And more we ate, because when tater tots come gratis, how can you refuse?
And the Sandwich Winners:
Love, American Style
1. The Nibbler, Jeff Bernal
2. The Uncle Sammie, Ryan Bentz
3. Clobbersaurus, Taylor Henderson
1. Hot Cha Cha, Missy Michaud
2. The Artistocrat, Lucky McNulty
3. Italyn Stallyn, Howard Brodwin
1. The Lyndon, Micah Baskir
2. Daneitzerland Surprise, Craig Joyce
3. The Lovekraft, Josh Smith
1. Friggin' Figgin Vegan, Jenny Harrison
2. Cream Me Up, Scotty, Jodi Taffel
3. Cream Cheese Dream V3.0, Nicole Anderson
Love, American Style
1. Cheeses Crust Superstar, Jennifer Vela
2. SHOTS!, Erik Kelley
3. Brick Is Still the Damn Trick, Michael Davidson
1. Sexiest Grilled Cheese Ever, Matthew Michaud
2. Put a Brick on It, Michael Davidson
3. Fondle My Figs, Chris Brugler
1. This Little Piggy (All-Around Champion), Matthew Michaud
2. Masala Grilled Cheese, Leesadie Lands
3. Burratavioli Melt, Dave Danhi
1. Lady Lemon Liquor, Jennifer Vela
2. Hard on the Outside, Michael Marrone
3. Aurora Borealis (vegan), Gwendolyn Mathers