The three finalists in our 4th annual Tillamook Cheese Factory Grilled Cheese Contest cook-off competed last Saturday, April 12th at the Cheese Factory to determine who makes the best darned Tillamook Grilled Cheese sandwich on the planet. From a field of 40 entries, narrowed to 6 semi-finalists, these three grilled cheese lovin’ finalists did their best to impress six judges to take the Grand Prize Winner title. And impress they did with three very different, unique and cheesy recipes. Unlike last year’s contest, where the judges took only about 5 minutes to choose a winner, our judges this year took nearly 20 minutes of deliberation to come to a decision. And at the end of the day, the creator of the unique Raspberry Black Pepper Melt walked away with the $500 Grand Prize, along with a gift basket chock-full of Tillamook goodies and bragging rights for the best Tillamook Grilled Cheese. Kelly Aldrich of Spokane, Washington packed her sandwich with thick slices of Smoked Black Pepper White Cheddar, then grilled it up on thick, fluffy Grandma Sycamore’s white bread with tender grilled chicken and raspberry jam. The slightly sweet jam was a perfect contrast to the rich white cheddar with smoked black peppercorns.
But as we said, it was close! The runners up were Renata Stanko of Lebanon, Oregon with her Johnny Appleseed’s Grilled Cheese Hog Sandwich featuring Sharp White Cheddar and Smoked Medium Cheddar with pork and apples, and local Amy Spence of Tillamook brought her Smokin’ Grilled Cheese Veggie Supreme, which she called “a salad in a sandwich” showcasing our Vintage White Smoked Extra Sharp Cheddar. Amy also took home the People’s Choice award, as determined by a round of applause from our audience, who had the opportunity to sample all three of these sandwich creations.
Grand Prize winner Kelly’s sandwich will be featured at the Creamery Café at the cheese factory beginning Saturday, April 19th so come on out and give it a try! Make plans now to join us next year for the 5th Annual Contest, and thanks for celebrating National Grilled Cheese month with us this April!