My first time attending the Grilled Cheese Invitational was in 2008, which you can read about here. It was definitely a fun time and I've been a regular goer ever since. Since my first visit, this event has grown in size and last April, I found myself with other avid grilled cheese sandwich lovers at the Los Angeles Center Studios for the 2010 Grilled Cheese Invitational.
At the Grilled Cheese Invitational, it's all about the spirit of competition as both amateur and professional cooks competed separately for grilled cheese sandwich greatness in 3 different categories.
- The Missionary Position: Standard bread, standard cheese (or cheeses), standard butter and no additional ingredients.
- The Kama Sutra: Any kind of bread, any kind of butter, and any kind of cheese PLUS additional ingredients(the interior ingredients must be at least 60% cheese).
- The Honey Pot: Any kind of bread, any kind of butter, and any kind of cheese (the interior ingredients of the sammich must be at least 60% cheese), and with an overall flavor that is sweet and would best be served as dessert.
As for the judging, Invitational go-ers had to apply online ahead of time to become a judge and though they had still pay for admission, they were able to sample as many of the grilled cheese sandwiches as they could get to in the competition area. So what are the general rules of judging?
- Get Sammy from Runner
- Eat Sammy
- Vote on Sammich
- Put Vote in Ballot Box
To get that sammy can involve anything from being patient for some and being aggressive for others. It could mean being at the right place at the right time or knowing people who are competing. A cheese-inspired costume could give you brownie points, especially since a lot of the chef and runners themselves were also dressed accordingly. Knowing how to make good eye contact and smiling doesn't hurt and looking excited, being enthusiastic and vocal may also draw the chef and the runner's attention to you. In short, a shy violet will not get any sammiches.
Once you get that sandwich and hopefully, you'll get more than one, you'll get a ballot where you get to score that sandwich on 4 different categories.
- Presentation: How does the sammich look? (Scale of 1 – 10, 10 being highest)
- Taste: How does it taste? (Scale of 1 – 20, 20 being highest)
- Wessonality: Is this sammich special? Deliver Style points here (Scale of 1- 5, 5 being highest)
- SPAZ: The Weird Factor (Scale of 1 – 15, 15 being biggest Spaz
If you weren't an official judge, there were other opportunities that day to get some grilled cheese sandwich action. Tillamook Cheese, was one of the main sponsors and there were free Tillamook grilled cheese sandwiches for all. There were also other vendors competing for a People's Choice Awards like The Grilled Cheese Truck, the Oaks Gourmet, Chef Eric Greenspan of the Foundry and more.
Overall, being a cheesehead, this is one event I look forward to every year and even better, one of my friend's Missionary entry won a Judge's Choice Award. You can see that winning sandwich below as well as my friend Cecilia and her runner for the day, Miho along with her trophy. To see the list of all the winners, click here.
If you don't want to miss out on the 2011 Grilled Cheese Invitational, see below for all the contact information.
Grilled Cheese Invitational Website
Grilled Cheese Invitational on Twitter
Grilled Cheese Invitational on Facebook
My 70+ photos of the 2010 Grilled Cheese Invitational can be found here!