Chili cook-offs and barbeque competitions are popular fixtures across the country. But move over beef and beans, because grilled cheese is gaining ground in the world of food competitions!
With more than 300 eager amateur and professional cook-off competitors and more than 9,000 hungry participants, the Grilled Cheese Invitational attracts expert cheesy-anados from all over the country.
Candace Karu of Vermont's Cabot Creamery Cooperative says, "Grilled cheese is so great because it's so easy. There's not anything complicated; anyone can become a grilled cheese master. You just need an imagination, and great cheese, bread and butter."
Contestants compete for cheese sandwich victory while willing participant/judges sample each juicy bite. But if you really want a winning grilled cheese sandwich, using your imagination and some wild flavor combinations are key strategies.
Twelve-year-old chef Jake Feldman, a previous winner at the Grilled Cheese Invitational, says, "I had hot Cheetos as a crust on my grilled cheese along with chorizo and some other items. It sounded disgusting, but it was delicious."
The yearly competition attracts cutting-edge cheese conseiuer, Laura Werlin.
"Sometimes a stroll down the produce isle can lead to inspiration for a great grilled cheese sandwich. You take some seasonal spinach and cook it up with some really great cheese," she says. "It has to be something you really love to eat on some great bread with some butter - I'm a big butter freak when it comes to grilled cheese. You're good to go."
Organizer Tim Walker sums it up: "Not anyone can be a chef, but everyone can be a grilled cheese champion."
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