blue cheese, cheese, competition, Grilled Cheese, Wisconsin
Wisconsin Grilled Cheese ChampionshipSunday, April 27, 2014
|Image from www.grilledcheesewisconsin.com.|
For those not familiar, the structure of the competition and general rules are as follows:
- The competition is split into three main levels of experience:
- Young Chef (aged 12 to 17),
- Amateur (one who engages in cooking as a past-time rather than as a profession and is 18 years or older), and
- Professional (one who engages in cooking as part of their profession and is 18 years or older).
- Within those three levels, there are four categories that you can compete in:
- Classic (bread, butter, and one type of Wisconsin cheese),
- Classic Plus One (bread, butter, one type of Wisconsin cheese, and one additional ingredient),
- Classic Plus Extras (bread, butter, unlimited types of Wisconsin cheese, and unlimited additional ingredients), and
- Classic Dessert (bread, butter, unlimited types of Wisconsin cheese, and unlimited additional "sweet" ingredients).
- Wisconsin cheese must make up at least 60% of the fillings used.
- Competitors have 15 minutes to make two sandwiches: one to be judged on presentation, and one to be cut into four sections for the judges to taste. After the timed portion, competitors make two additional sandwiches for VIP guests to try.
- Processed cheeses (like American or Velveeta) will get you disqualified.
- Tabletop butane burners and 12" skillets are provided, while you are responsible for bringing spatulas, knives, cutting boards, and your ingredients. You are not allowed to bring your own skillet.
- A maximum of 20 competitors are allowed in each heat. In addition, you are able to compete in up to four different heats if you wish.
|Half of my cranberry, apple, blue cheese, and Apple Jack grilled cheese.|
In between checking out local vendors and chatting with competitors, I had plenty of time to observe other competitors in action. Watching others, it seemed like 15 minutes was more than enough time to get the job done, but after actually competing, I couldn't believe how fast the time went by. The 15 minute setup period combined with the 15 minutes of competing felt like a combined total of 5 minutes. Besides the whole timing thing (and nerves getting the better of me), the only thing I wasn't quite prepared for was getting used to the fast cooking time that gas has as opposed to the electric burners that I'm so used to. In the end, the insides of my sandwich could have been a little more melted, but I didn't want to risk browning the bread too much to achieve that. So with three minutes to spare, I decided to take my sandwiches off the grill and call it good.
Results were announced about 30 minutes after each heat was completed. Being that this was my first time competing and I was surrounded by professionals from around the state, my goal was just to finish, hah! Through some miracle though, emcee Kyle Cherek announced my name as the 3rd Place Winner! After gladly accepting my trophy and taking pictures with other finalists, I could finally take a deep breath, relax, and take it all in.