When I heard that this year’s Grilled Cheese Invitational was going to be held at the Rose Bowl, I kind of freaked out. I mean, being a lifetime resident of Los Angeles, the Rose Bowl holds a certain aura: it’s the arena where legends have been made, where epic concerts have been held. Sure, the event was being held in the parking lot, but… it was still the frickin’ Rose Bowl!
Now, if you’ve been around me long enough, you know one of the things I live for is this competition. My first one was four years ago, and I was hooked. Sometime around January, my idle thoughts will turn to grilled cheese, long before they set the date for the event. My friends are tortured by my constant ideas about what I could stick between two pieces of bread that would make a winning sandwich; I subject them to rounds of tastings, trying to pull out opinions of how to make my ideas better. One of my best friends, Moris, supplies me with all manner of cheesy puns to use for naming my creations.
This year was going to be different. The past three years of walking away empty-handed gave me the experience of how to make good use of my time during the competition. I knew to print labels for my sample plates (no more “what’s in this?”) and I knew how to prep in such a way that my samples came out fast and hot. I was ready for victory.
We arrived bright and early, ready to do battle in the first two heats. And when I say heats, I’m not joking. It was hot you guys.
Talking to our neighbor for the first two heats, and we’ve got our game faces ON.
When the spatulas dropped, we got to work. First up, we had our Love, American Style sandwich, Cheeses Crust, Superstar. It’s your classic grilled cheese: white bread, American or Cheddar cheese, and butter. I made my own bread, of course, with the recipe taken from my grandmother’s old Better Homes & Gardens 1960′s red-checkered cookbook.
I’ll forgive my official photographer for not getting a picture–it was a good sandwich.
We never got a picture of our Honey Pot entry, Lady Lemon Licker. And, if any of you fine folks out there who attended, if you got a picture, can you help a girl out? I was so focused on getting out my samples I forgot to get Choo to take a picture!
So, after getting our sandwiches out, we had several hours to burn and several friends who traveled from all over the country to come see me compete. And, not only that, these wonderful people made sure I was never without beer the rest of the afternoon. The time came to hear the winners. I waited near the stage; it was nothing new, we had done this before.
And then this happened:
Trophy Number One (Sorry you guys, you’ll have to click the link for the video, THANKS, WordPress!)
I think this picture really captures it for us. And I’d say it was the beer, but I was NOT letting go of that trophy!
But… we weren’t done yet: Trophy Number Two
Look it that! Trophies won! At the frickin’ Rose Bowl!
And there we are with our friends, Jodi & Sparky, who also won (2nd place Honey Pot, Spaz, and Frontiers in Fromage), and, YES, I’m on the phone with my mom! Who do you call when you win something like that? Mom, of course! I don’t think I made much sense, but she was happy for me.
After all the cheese and all the beer and all the trophies, it was time to celebrate. We headed to 1886 in Pasadena, which has a gorgeous patio that was just the right size for our little party, and I took some time to bask in the glow of being a winner:
You know I’m coming back next year; I have more categories to win. Team FigJam: in it to win it for 2013!
And, since I don’t want to be rude, I’d like to thank my friends:
- David Schneider, my official photographer. You can see the rest of his pictures from this event here.
- Chris, who took the video of my wins, and his sister, Katie, who came all the way out from Atlanta!
- Margaret, my favorite co-worker, who showed up and screamed and cheered us on the entire way.
- Moris, Cristhian, Jodi, Sparky, Mike, and especially Jason, who even after I set his oven afire earlier this year, still let me do a test run in his kitchen without batting an eye; I’ve tortured you with enough grilled cheese to last you the rest of 2012.
- Jeff and Ange and their friends, who all were down from San Francisco and cheered me on, too.
I have awesome friends. I attribute my win to you guys; you helped make it happen.