Grilled Cheese Invitational: Bread. Butter. Cheese. Victory!

Monday, February 23, 2009

As featured in Bay Area Bites, February 23, 2009.

The 2nd Annual NorCal Regional Grilled Cheese Invitational was held this past Saturday at Dolores Park.

Half-Naked Juggling Guy in Boxer Briefs was present with an African drum on his back. As was Chick in a Hot Dog Suit accompanied by Boy in a Banana Suit. All in all, just another day in the Mission.

Hot Dog and Certified Organic Banana (Photo Credit: Kai Yu)

Hot Dog and Certified Organic Banana (Photo Credit: Kai Yu)

Really, days like this make me love San Francisco for what it is: the most eclectic bunch of people in one city, all bonded by a shared appreciation for some tasty eats, a little entertainment, and a patch of grass to sit on.

The Crowd Goes Crazy for Cheese (Photo Credit: Kai Yu)

The Crowd Goes Crazy for Cheese (Photo Credit: Kai Yu)

img_6035 crowd-goes-crazy

The crowd at the Grilled Cheese Invitational was pumped up and full of exuberant cheering. The air was electric … and full of the intoxicating scent of sizzling butter and bread. The promise of melty cheese for the masses created a kind of aphrodisiacal nirvana that settled over our little corner of Dolores Park.

According to the official “Grilled Cheese Invitational Rules & Regulations” there were three categories of competition:

1) The Missionary Position: Standard bread, standard butter and standard cheese. No additional ingredients or flavorings allowed.
2) The Kama Sutra: Any kind of bread, any kind of butter, and any kind of cheese (or blend of cheeses) plus additional ingredients.
3) The Honey Pot: Any kind of bread, any kind of butter, any kind of cheese (or blend of cheeses), and any additional ingredients, but a sandwich that is sweet in flavor, or would best be served as dessert.

I was impressed with the creative license many contestants took with the “any kind of butter” option. I saw duck fat being used, pools of bacon grease and butter comingling in unhealthy heart happiness, and my favorite of the day – coconut oil.

The Honey Pot category produced some entries that just boggled my concept of the grilled cheese. Take this for example.

Mushroom-Banana Grilled Cheese

Mushroom-Banana Grilled Cheese

Nifer, a volunteer ballot-collector decked out in her finest grilled cheese bonnet, models a Mushroom-Banana Grilled Cheese topped with whipped cream.



She took a bite and declared, “It’s weird … but I kinda like it.”

Err … I’ll trust you on that, Nifer. Mushrooms and whipped cream may be just a little too risqué for my taste. I’ll save room for seasoned vets Laura Wiles and Katherine Scherbel’s Baklava Grilled Cheese.

Laura and her Honey Pot Entry

Laura and her Honey Pot Entry

Laura and Katherine took The Honey Pot category at last year’s Oakland Regional Grilled Cheese Invitational and I could see why. They cook for the people. Katherine divulged that their strategy was to create something that possessed a familiar flavor people could identify with. The result was a round honey bun, fried in fragrant coconut oil, and filled with a nutty mixture of pistachio, orange zest, and cinnamon, ricotta and mozzarella cheese, and drizzled with chocolate sauce.

Baklava Grilled Cheese

Baklava Grilled Cheese

Big thanks to the organizers of the Grilled Cheese Invitational. They just may have made the world (or at least San Francisco) a better, happier, more fulfilled place with this cookoff. Because it’s hard not to love life after spending your Saturday afternoon with over 500 of your fellow neighbors, paying homage to the almighty Grilled Cheese Sammich. The best sammich there ever was.

Grilled Cheese Euphoria (Photo Credit: Kai Yu)

Grilled Cheese Euphoria (Photo Credit: Kai Yu)

Grilled Cheese wins at life (Photo Credit: Kai Yu)

Grilled Cheese wins at life (Photo Credit: Kai Yu)

20 Responses to “Grilled Cheese Invitational: Bread. Butter. Cheese. Victory!”

  1. Sarah says:

    I wish I’d gotten Half-Naked Juggling (with African drum on back) Guy’s name… what a dreamboat.

    Such a fun day!! :)

  2. Hua says:

    Acme Olive Bread
    Cypress Groove’s Midnight Moon Cheese
    Regular Butter with a dash of Krazy Salt

    Kama Sutra For the Win!

    Booyah :)

  3. Daily Spud says:

    What a fabulously insane way to spend a Saturday – I love SF for things like that!

  4. Bob says:

    That. Is. Awesome. Almost makes me want to leave the northeast…. almost. ;)

  5. Man, I walked by Dolores Park the week before, and they did not have any action like that going on. Maybe next year, Mmm, the honey pot looks good, but I’m leary about the coconut oil. But hey, for the sake of eating all hesitation goes out the window.

  6. Sapuche says:

    Oh man. Cheese, glorious cheese. What a wild looking event. Pretty much everyone in the photos looks like they’re screaming their heads off over cheese. This is one of those times when I wish Internet technology included some kind of sniff / taste feature…I think.

  7. This is the 2nd year we’ve only been able to read about this awesome event. If San Francisco were in a 2 hour radius of LA, we’d be there! That baklava version is calling our names.

  8. Dskco says:

    That is sucha cool idea! I’d love for a Grilled Cheese Invitational to come over here. That Mushroom-Banana one was a little risque for my taste too, haha. Good stuff!
    Also your page wasn’t working yesterday while I was at work, and I freaked out, lol, glad its working now

    • Stephanie says:

      hahaha sorry for the alarm ;) no worries though, i am alive and well. (please do shoot me an email though if you ever see something wrong with the site!). p.s. you should email them! the grilled cheese people, i mean. maybe they could do an event in dc!

  9. what a great event, I love grilled cheese.
    Fred Smilek is the acting president of the Society to Save Endangered Species. It was founded two years ago by Fred Smilek along with his two best friends Charles and Jonathan.

  10. Looks like it was quite an event with a wide range of grilled cheese and cheese fanatics. Would love to partake someday.

  11. [...] Gibson, was inspired to open up a gourmet grilled cheese restaurant after her many victories at the Grilled Cheese Invitational.Inside American Grilled Cheese Kitchen (San Francisco)The Mousetrap with the Works (American [...]

  12. @iusquinn says:

    Event looks good! (:

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