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…
The results of the 2013 Grilled Cheese Invitational
The Grilled Cheese Champion
Luck McNulty — “The Recumbent Vicar”
Jennifer Vela – “Neapolitan Blown Apart”
People's Choice Award
1st Place – The Grilled Cheese Truck
2nd Place – Elbows Mac & Cheese
3rd Place – Trailer Park Truck
Love, American Style Category – White Bread, Orange Cheese & Butter
1st Place – Taylor Henderson – “Totes MaGoates”
Raw toast, butter, orange cheese
2nd Place – Rudi Samonte – “Cheddar Squared”
Cheddar Cheese, white bread & Butter
3rd Place – Marie Cammack – “Inside Out and Bustin' Out”
White bread, butter, sharp cheddar, extra sharp cheddar and American.
1st Place – Greg Paul of The Oaks Gourmet – “Powder Finger”
Homemade Extra Sharp American melted and powdered on pan di mie.
Missionary Category – Any Type of Bread, butter and cheese
1st Place – Luck McNulty “The Recumbent Vicar”
A combination of seven different cheeses
2nd Place – Jeff Bernal – “El Hefe!”
Cheddar, American, Parmesan & Butter on Sourdough
3rd Place – Aaron Gariepy – “Uncle Jesse”
1st Place – Michael Davidson – “The Legend”
Cabot Aged White Cheddar, Orange Cheddar, Mozzarella & Spring Hill Farms butter on Acme bread
2nd Place – Erik Kelley “Ma Che Bella Piato di Ravioli”
3rd Place – Paul Inserra “De-Lish”
Muenster Cheese, Guglhupf's Pumpkin seed cheddar bread and butter
Kama Sutra Category – Any type of bread, butter and cheese PLUS additional ingredients – savory
1st Place – Jenny Harrison – “And on the 8th Day, the Lord Created Grilled Cheese” RAMEN
Japanese White Bread, VEGAN Jalapeno Garlic Havarti Cheese, Ramen, Sriracha Broth Reduction Sauce
2nd Place – Rebecca Shergill – “P*rk Brie Baby One More Thyme”
Sourdough Bread, Brie Cheese, Thyme, butter, Candied Bacon, Apple/Maple Glazed Ham, Arugula pesto, Jalapeno Apple Chutney and Garlic Confit
3rd Place – Aften Detwiler – “Beer Smothered Clucker”
Pulled Beer Can Chicken, IPA Cheddar, Heirloom Tomato, Braised Kale on Homemade Beer Bread served with homemade honey mustard
1st Place – Lou Dave – “Potsticker Meltz'
Bread, Cheese, Pork, Green Onion, Sriracha and wontons.
2nd Place – Jennifer Vela – “Put Some South In Your Mouth”
Sweet Potato Bread, Fontina, Cheddar, Grits, Virginia Ham and Peach & Pepper Jam
3rd Place – Albert Lara-Rodriguez – “Bacon Butter Crunch”
Organic White Cheddar Cheese with Guacamole, tomatoes & bacon butter on Sourdough Bread
Honey Pot Category – Any type of bread, butter and cheese PLUS additional ingredients – savory
1st Place – Joe Harkenrider – “The Napoleon Fromage Homage”
French bread, French toast, butter, American cheese, fudge blueberry cheddar cheese, blue berries, Fontina cheese, powder sugar and a side of maple syrup garnish.
2nd Place – Laura Caccavo – “Birthday Cake Martini”
Funfetti challah, mayo, honey goat cheese, blue cheese, extra sharp cheddar, American cheese, confetti cookie crumbles icing and vodka spray
3rd Place – Matthew LaForest – “Hell's Angels”
Angel Food Cake, Kiwis, Cream Cheese, Mascarpone, Dark Rum and some kind of vanilla booze
1st Place – Jennifer Vela – “Neapolitan Blown Apart”
Chocolate Wafer, Dark Chocolate Pop Rock Ganache, Chocolate Cream Cheese, Raspberry Chevre Vanilla Bean Mascarpone, Berry Balsamic Sauce
2nd Place – Michael Marrone – “Hard on the Outside 2.0”
Coffeegrind & Lavender Cheddar plus thick-cut, dark chocolate covered bacon on Crème Brulee'd Sourdough
3rd Place – Rick Webster – “Borracho Figs & Cheese”
Spanish bread with Figs in a brand sauce, a variety of Spanish cheeses and topped with pine nuts.
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