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Bread, Butter, Cheese, Victory!

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Saturday was a spectacular day, full of sun and wind, and for the lucky among us, it was also full of grilled cheese sandwiches. Los Angeles State National Park is practically in the shadow of downtown. Parts of it was still green, though few people in the ever growing line to get in probably didn’t much notice. This was the First Seventh Annual Grilled Cheese Invitational (yes, you read that right.) Started by Tim Walker in his kitchen many years ago, the Invitational has ballooned to a 1700 person event, with sponsors, a beer and wine garden and no small amount of puns. Though already large, 5000 people turned out to pay their respects to the ultimate comfort food. By 3 p.m., they’d run out of beer, judging tickets (You sign a waiver, you get two tickets, which you can trade for a wedge of grilled cheese on a plate with a ballot.), and cans of juice. Still, the organizers persevered, led by MC Eric Trueheart, they soldiered bravely into the wilds, in search of the perfect grilled cheese.

Kraft was there to make sure no one went hungry, with their golden, buttery (but sadly, American cheesy) sandwiches, which was good because getting one of the fascinating culinary experiments took a good deal of work. Fighting your way to the front of the crowded tables to wave and shout (and plead and beg) for a sandwich was a challenge, and a bit chancy. You could come up with a masterpiece or with something that managed to be both burned and soggy. Then it was your job to rate this sandwich, according to flavor, presentation, inspirational qualities (or “wessonality” as it was called) and spazziness. Former winners, Hot Knives and Eric Greenspan (from the Foundry on Melrose), cooked their winning sandwiches in front of the stage.