Welcome to the Wisconsin Grilled Cheese Championship! This is a growing regional event that is designed to put your Grilled Cheese recipes and cooking skills to the test. This competition features several different heats that all have different ingredients and rules, so please read these instructions carefully. At the Grilled Cheese Championship, we are proud of our Wisconsin cheese-making history, so ALL cheeses used must be from Wisconsin.
As you can imagine, during the event, things will get a little hectic. There will be 3,000+ people at the competition watching you cook, and a few VIP’s will be sampling sandwiches. The judges are typically local celebrities and/or people with experience in the culinary arts. Participants are encouraged to wear costumes and have team names. We try to make the event one where the cooks and the audience has a lot of fun. Rules, recipes, and the spirit of competition are important, but having fun is the best part. If you find yourself having fun, please come back and compete again. The team of volunteers helping out and running the event try to make improvements each and every year and we know there is always opportunities for improvements. If you have ideas, please share them with one of our friendly volunteers anytime during or after the event. If you have questions or suggestions, you can always email us at WIGrilledCheeseChamp@gmail.com.
If you have participated before, you will notice that the rules have been updated. Please make special note that the cooking time has been reduced to 13 minutes to make the competition more challenging.
There will be a maximum of 20 competitors in each heat. Once capacity has been reached, a waiting list for competitors will be created and additional heats may open up. Each competitor will be allowed to enter only one sandwich per category in a maximum of four categories for
the entire competition day.
Category Descriptions and Definitions
All grilling will be done in separate 13-minute heats. Each competitor will have only 13 minutes per category to complete their grilling. The Emcee of the event will occasionally announce time remaining as the heat advances. The competition will begin with the command
Classic -- any type of bread, real Wisconsin butter, and only one kind of real Wisconsin cheese. No additional ingredients. (Compound butters can be used on the outside and do not count as an ingredient on any sandwich. Use them on the inside and it does count as an ingredient.) A
garnish is permitted, but it may not be used to enhance the flavor of the sandwich and is only
for display purposes.
Classic Plus One -- a savory (as opposed to sweet) sandwich with any type of bread, “butter,” and only one kind of real Wisconsin cheese plus one additional ingredient (note: compound ingredients such as jams, spreads, etc. can be counted as one). The interior ingredients must
be at least 60% cheese. A garnish is permitted, but it may not be used to enhance the flavor of the sandwich and is only for display purposes.
Classic Plus Extras -- a savory (as opposed to sweet) sandwich with any type of bread, “butter,” and real Wisconsin cheese (multiple cheeses accepted) plus unlimited additional ingredients. However, the interior ingredients must still be at least 60% cheese. Classic Dessert: any kind of bread, “butter,” and real Wisconsin cheese (multiple cheeses accepted) plus additional ingredients to create an overall sweet (as opposed to savory) flavor that would be best served as a “dessert” grilled cheese sandwich. However, the interior ingredients must still be at least 60% cheese.
“Open” -- during the special heat for competitors aged 12-17, Amateur-Young Chef competitors may prepare the Classic, Classic Plus One, Classic Plus Extras, or Classic Dessert sandwich as defined above. A Young Chefs must be accompanied by an adult during the competition.
“Winners Circle” -- is a special heat where participation is limited to contestants who have received first place honors for a category in past competitions. This special contest is intended to have limited participation and will occur sporadically.
Special “Main Event” Cooking -- The Grilled Cheese Championship occasionally introduces special competitions. These may include introducing a unique ingredient in order to challenge chefs or it may be one or more community groups challenging each other. Rules for this category are determined annually as “special” competitions are introduced.
When the time limit is reached, time will be called with the command “Spatulas Down!” When announced, you must have your sandwich on the plate and off the grill, as you are no longer cooking. You will need to cut your sandwich and raise your flag.
Heat times may vary based on the number of heat participates. The schedule will be announced during the competitors meeting on the day of the event. Categories with more than 20 participants will be split into multiple heats.
Competitors are required to check-in from 9:50am and 10:10 AM and attend the mandatory competitors’ meeting at 10:15 am. At that time, competitors will be assigned a cooking time and a numbered cooking station at which to grill. Competitors will be responsible for storing
their own supplies, coolers, and containers in a safe, sanitary manner while on site. When a competitor’s designated heat is called, they will have 5 minutes to gather their supplies and report to their designated cooking station and get ready to compete. When the cooking heat begins, competitors will be given the go ahead by the command “Spatulas Up!” After 13 minutes, the heat will end with the command “Spatulas Down!”
There are a total of four judges for each heat in the Wisconsin Grilled Cheese Championship. Two sandwiches must be grilled for each category entered: one will be quartered and presented to the judges to sample while the other sandwich must remain whole and given to the judges to award presentation points. Each sandwich entry will be able to score a maximum of 40 points per judge for a total of 160 points possible. The sandwich with the highest points awarded by the judges will be declared the winner of that category. In case of a tie, a cook-off will be held.
Sandwiches determined by the lead judge or the floor judge to be non-compliant (e.g., fails to use required ingredients or in required proportions, failure to follow sanitary requirements, etc.) will be disqualified. The Pit Boss or an Inspections Team member may also issue one point penalties at their discretion should a contestant be caught breaking rules or being uncooperative. Points will be awarded by the judges based upon the following criteria:
“Bread”: any leavened or unleavened, flour-based and baked item that is considered to be “bread” (e.g., pita, whole-wheat, sandwich thins, etc.). Gluten-free products are allowed this year!
“Butter”: a sandwich grilling aid that includes, butter, margarine, plain or flavored oils, etc. are permitted, especially in certain categories. However, only real butter may be used in the “classic” category.
“Cheese”: MUST BE MADE IN WISCONSIN from an animal source. (Note: processed cheese is prohibited and will result in disqualification.)
The top three scores for each category will be declared first, second and third place winners for Professional, Amateur, and Young Chef classifications. Winners will receive various prizes described under the Prizes section. The Lorin Toepper “Best of Show” will be awarded by the
judges for the most outstanding grilled cheese sandwich of the Wisconsin Grilled Cheese Championship for the Professional categories. All Young Chef Competitors will receive a participation ribbon regardless of the outcome of that special heat.
COMPETITION HEAT SCHEDULE
Amateur Classic...........................11:00 p.m.
Professional Classic....................11:30 p.m.
Amateur Classic Plus One..........12:00 p.m.
Professional Classic Plus One...12:30 p.m.
Young Chefs Open..........................1:00 p.m.
Amateur Classic Plus Extras.........1:30 p.m.
Professional Classic Plus Extras..2:00 p.m.
First Responders Open...................2:30 p.m.
Amateur Classic Dessert...............3:00 p.m.
Professional Class Dessert...........3:30 p.m.
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