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Say Cheese! A Dispatch From the Frontline of the 2nd 8th Annual Grilled Cheese Invitational

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At its apex, the action at the 2nd 8th Annual Grilled Cheese Invitational was hot and cheesy...as one might expect it be. Basking in the warm afternoon spring sunshine, attendees of the popular event Saturday swarmed about the lot of the Los Angeles Center Studios in Downtown, braving the lines and crowds to taste dozens upon dozens of grilled cheese sandwiches. Meanwhile, the competitors in the multiple "heats" of pan-seared showmanship were there for a taste of glory.

I walked the line at the event metaphorically--being not an Executive Judge (as LAist was last year; our invitation must have been lost in the mail, right?) nor one of the many eager attendees who registered for judging privileges ahead of time--and literally, getting a behind the scenes look at the cooking and the ogling but without doing any tasting. There was definitely a lot to see, and, for those with cash in hand, an appetite, and the patience, there was plenty to eat.

It was intense for the competitors who were working frantically to prep their concoctions in the four categories (Love, American Style; Missionary; Kama Sutra; and Honey Pot) and as intense for the voters, who had to clamor for the sandwich-givers' attention to get a coveted balloted taste.

Cheese enthusiasts braved long lines at the vendor tents and food trucks parked in multiple areas to purchase grilled cheese sandwiches and other tasty treats, drinkers packed the beer garden, and food fans watched numerous demos from the live stage.

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Though a full list of the many winners among the many categories as bestowed by the people and the cheesy Executive Judges and Cheese Officials (you know, like the Mayor of Cheese) is forthcoming, we do know that the Grilled Cheese Truck took the People's Choice Award for favorite vendor. Here are the 1st place winners from the cook-off competition:

Love, American Style (dedicated to the classic grilled cheese sandwich, made with nothing but white bread, orange cheese and butter)
PROFESSIONAL: Cheese People - "Don't Make Wet My Box"
AMATEUR: Team Smile Say Cheese - "America: The Sandwich"

Missionary (sandwiches made with any type of bread, butter and cheese, but no other ingredients)
PROFESSIONAL: Grilled Cheese Guy - "The Brick's the Trick"
AMATEUR: "Team Cheesy Melty Goodness - "The Lucky Pierre"

Kama Sutra ("a gastronomorgasmic free-for-all")
PROFESSIONAL: M2 Rockin Chef - "Castro Mistro"
AMATEUR: Super Duper Zung Chung - "Fromage Connection"

Honey Pot (Dessert)
PROFESSIONAL: Kitchen24 - "Did you Jam your Cheesecake into My Sandwich?"
AMATEUR: Return of Mivens - "Cake and Mivens"

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The 2011 Official Grilled Cheese Champion (Highest Scored Sammich)
The Return of Mivens - "Cake and Mivens"

See more pics and learn what one judge says are the guidelines for a successful sammich via Squid Ink.