As I talked about in my previous post, I entered a video that I made into a Tillamook Cheese contest to win a trip to the Grilled Cheese Invitational in L.A. The video showcased my candied bacon cornbread, fried green tomato, and Tillamook Sharp Cheddar Cheese sandwich.
After about a week of crazy-nervous excitement and diligent YouTube stalking of the other entries, I got a message from Tillamook that said I won the video contest. I probably read the message three or four times before I announced to my roommates (and best friends) that I had won. We all started jumping up and down and screaming – so much so, that my super came and checked on us. TILLAMOOK WAS SENDING ME TO LA TO COMPETE IN THE GRILLED CHEESE INVITATIONAL! I called everyone I knew, updated all my social networks, and reveled in the fact that I had achieved the unachievable.
A few days later, my friend Perri and I arrived in L.A. and proceeded to have the time of our lives. When we got to the hotel, we found an awesome gift bag from Tillamook that was stocked with presents and also a cooler full of the food that I was going to use to make my sandwich for the contest. Since my hotel room didn’t have a kitchen and because I didn’t think the food would travel well, I invaded my friends’ house and cooked for a few hours the night before the contest. This just happened to take place on a Friday night and my friend whose kitchen we used, was having people over. With some old fashioned cocktails and Elvis Costello on the record player, my cooking session turned into a pre-Grilled Cheese Invitational party that got me pumped up, excited, and ready for the competition that was happening the next day.
The next morning we packed our gear and headed to the Invitational. Our eyes grew wide as we were taking in everything. I was in grilled cheese heaven. There were food trucks everywhere, vending booths handing out some of the most interesting grilled cheeses I had ever seen, and most importantly, there was Tillamook Land. Upon walking up in my Tillamook shirt, I was instantly recognized and greeted by the nicest people in the world. The Tillamook team was amazing. Because of their generosity and kindness, it was like I was with all of my best friends and they were here to cheer me on.
After a few hours of hanging out in Tillamook Land and stuffing my face with grilled cheese, it was time for me to compete. I was so excited and nervous that my cheeks started to hurt from smiling so much. Perri and I managed to crank out sandwiches like Loafy manages to crank out smiles, all while being interviewed by the contest officials and curious executive judges. After 50 minutes of adrenaline-pumping-grilled-cheese-slaying, my heat was over. Little did I know, my day was far from being complete.
After going back to Tillamook Land, the crew handed Perri and me executive judge badges and we headed back to the contest for some serious grilled cheese judging. With the Tillamook team by my side, we must have eaten about 25 amazing grilled cheese sandwiches. It got to the point that all of our stomachs were so full that we had to lie in the grass and take a break from eating. Needless to say, it was one of the best and filling events in my life.
After a few beers, a couple more grilled cheese sandwiches, and some funkadelic songs by the Portland March Fourth Marching Band, it was time to hear who had won the contest. Although I didn’t win any of the awards at the actual invitational, I felt like I had won the biggest prize there was. I was the lucky girl who was chosen to have a chance to compete at one of the most exciting cheese melting events in the world – The 2nd 8th Annual Grilled Cheese Invitational. Thanks to Tillamook, I met some of the most amazing and nicest people in the world, got to eat some super inventive grilled cheese sandwiches, and had the time of my life. I really can’t express how amazing Tillamook Cheese was to me, but hopefully you can tell from my story, video, and pictures how incredible this experience truly was. All you need is Loaf.
Written by MacKenzie, winner of the Tillamook Cheese Grilled Cheese Invitational Video Contest and mastermind behind the Grilled Cheese Social.