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Dotted with crumbs and dripping with oil, the field of battle was left soiled and strewn with casualties -- cheese rinds, stale crusts, splatters of mustard -- a thousand miniature monuments to the epic struggle that had occurred Saturday afternoon at Los Angeles State Historic Park.
A total of 246 gladiators of the grill faced off at the 2009 Grilled Cheese Invitational, and in the heat of battle, a new champion was born. Heidi Gibson, a winner at a recent Grilled Cheese Invitational in Northern California, earned two prizes for Scent of a Lady, a sandwich featuring Italian Fontina, smoked Idiazabal, roasted butternut squash, bacon, prosciutto, caramelized onions and sage on pane rustica. With her previous wins, Gibson brought her trophy total to six, beating record holders Evan George and Alex Brown of Hot Knives. In her acceptance speech, Gibson revealed that she plans to open a grilled cheese restaurant and asked the crowd to suggest a name.
Other winners included Michael Davidson in Missionary Position with Grandma's Glory!; Brad Combs in Kama Sutra with Pelian's Lament (Roquefort, brie, rabbit confit, braised pear and Cointreau marmalade); and Brian Beecher and Crystal Carlsberg in Honey Pot with Cake & Mivens 2: Mivens Princes (double-cream Brie, either marzipan or mascarpone and a secret ingredient they refused to reveal).
It was a day of victory for some, of reckoning for others. Foundry chef and celebrity judge Eric Greenspan articulated the roiling emotions (and bellies) of the crowd: "After tasting 75 of your sandwiches, I am extremely ill," he said. "I would not recommend that you walk in front of or behind me for the next couple of hours."
(More detailed results will be posted on the Grilled Cheese Invitational website within the week.)
1st. #37 Grandma's Glory! (Michael Davidson)
2nd. #127 MyT Hoang (Thao Hoang)
3rd. #246 The One (Coleman Griffin)
4th. #10 Grilled Cheese Fries (David Spancer)
1st. #208 Pelian's Lament (Brad Combs) rabbit confit, brie, Roquefort, braised pear and Cointreau marmalade
2nd. #188 Mondo Fantastico Funky Cheese Delight (Dr. B)
3rd. #119 Notting Hill Carnival (Gareth Wilcock)
4th. #2 Scent of a Lady (Heidi Gibson)
1st. #88 Cake & Mivens 2: Mivens Princes (Brian Beecher & Crystal Carlsberg) double-cream Brie, either marzipan or mascarpone (hard to hear) and a secret ingredient
2nd. #189 Knock Your Socks Into the Laundry Room (Dr. B)
3rd. #212 Tiramisu Grilled Cheese Sandwich on Chocolate Coffee Bread (David McCallum)
4th. #182 Sweet Creamy Finish (the Mistress and a Minion)
Hot Knives (for Best Technical Skill): #97 Just for the Love of It / Michael Choi clarified brown butter, 14-month aged Comté & cheddar rubbed with honey and salt
Eric Greenspan: #2 Scent of a Lady / Heidi Gibson Italian Fontina, smoked Idiazabal, roasted butternut squash, sage, bacon, prosciutto, caramelized onions and pane rustica
Doctor of Cheese: #184 California Cheese Dreamin' sharp cheddar, Monterey jack, mayonnaise, onions, avocado and spices
Mayor of Cheese: #16 Fermat's Last Sandwich / Brian Weller
Additional Judges' Award: #184 Cheddar in the Rye