2018 Competition Rules


The Competition

There will be a maximum of 20 competitors in each heat.  Once capacity has been reached, a waiting list for competitors will be created.   Each competitor will be allowed to enter only one sandwich per category in a maximum of four categories for the entire competition.  Young Chef competitors aged 12-17 may only enter in the Young Chef category but may serve as assistants with an adult competitor in other categories. 


An “amateur” competitor is a person who engages in cooking as a past-time rather than as a profession.  A Young Chef competitor is a person aged 12-17 who engages in cooking as a past-time rather than as a profession (note: Young Chef competitors must be accompanied by an adult during the competition).  A “professional” competitor is 1) a person who engages in cooking as part of their profession or 2) an expert with specialized knowledge in culinary arts and in which one is practicing professionally.


The entry fee is non-refundable and you must preregister using Eventbrite (http://grilledcheesewi.eventbrite.com):  $10 per category for Amateurs, $10 for the one Young Chef category, and $15 per category for professionals.  Competitors may enter in up to four categories.   Competitors aged 12-17 may only enter as a competitor in the Young Chef category but may serve as an assistant with an adult competitor in other Amateur categories.  The entry fee includes admission for one competitor and one assistant.  Except for the special Young Chefs heat, competitors must beat least 18 years of age to compete.  Assistants must be 12 years of age or older and must be accompanied by an adult competitor during the competition.


Competitor Rules 

All competitors must attend a mandatory meeting at 10:30 am on the day of the event to sign-in, obtain their entry kit and grilling station number, review rules and sanitary
guidelines, complete required paperwork, learn how to work the stoves, and have their ingredients inspected and approved.


Each competitor will be provided with certain entry kit items (listed below) and must supply some of their own preparation, cooking, and serving  items (see below).  Each entry kit supplied by the Wisconsin Grilled Cheese Competition contains the following equipment to be used in the competition:
- Sterno ActionStation butane portable stove
- 12” American Kitchen by Regal Ware Stainless Steel fry pan with Eco-Satin non-stick coating (mandatory equipment, no substitutions)
- Disposable Grilling Hats
- Disposable Grilling Apron
- Official Wisconsin Grilled Cheese Competition Cheese Flag
- Hand Sanitizer
- Disposable Gloves
- Safe Food Handling Information Sheet
- Official Wisconsin Grilled Cheese Championship Plate With 4 Voting Score Sheets and a Sandwich Description Card
- Paper Towels
- Rules Sheet


Competitors must bring the following items to the competition:   
- Spatula or Turner
- Cutting Board
- Knife
- Ingredients needed to make six sandwiches for each sandwich category entered       
- Appropriate coolers and supply storage containers to hold ingredients in a sanitary manner


Onsite, competitors will be assigned a numbered grilling station for the relevant grilling heat.  Wisconsin Grilled Cheese Championship will provide table-top, butane burners for the event and tables upon which to cook and hold supplies.  Sanitizing stations will be available to competitors to sanitize their cooking equipment before, during, and after they compete.


Each competitor will bring any and all supplies and ingredients necessary to make six sandwiches (two for judging, two more for our VIP attendees to sample, extra ingredients for two more sandwiches in the event of error) for each category.  You may prepare certain items prior to your grilling heat (e.g., sauté onions and mushrooms, make a compote, make a compound butter, etc.).  The competitor will grill two sandwiches at the same time during the competition.  One sandwich will be cut up into quarters and presented to the judges to sample.  The other sandwich will be kept whole and given to the judges to determine presentation points.  Afterwards, the whole sandwich will be cut in half by event staff and displayed to the spectators along with a description of the sandwich’s contents.  For our VIP promotion, a competitor will be required to repeat the grilling of the sandwich again so additional ingredients should be brought.  This includes bread, butter, and Wisconsin cheese at the very minimum (see Sandwich Categories and Definitions below for more details on what is allowed for each category).  The VIP sandwiches do not need to be completed during the competition time as additional cook stations will be provided to complete them following your heat. Competitors MAY NOT cook additional sandwiches for family or friends any time while the competition is going on.  Additional sandwiches are exclusively for VIP ticket holders. Note: All perishable items must be stored in a cooler with ice and stored at safe temperatures below 45 degrees F.  All foodstuff must be stored off the ground at least 6 inches.  Coolers and supply storage units should be labeled with competitors’ names.  

No outside cooking equipment or cookware is allowed. The table-top, butane burners will be tested to work well with the 12” skillet provided.  All other cooking devices and tools such as George Foreman Grills, deep fryers, toaster ovens, Panini grills, waffle irons, foil-wrapped bricks, PAN LIDS/COVERS, etc. will not be allowed.


All competitors must wear grilling hats, aprons, and sanitary gloves either provided in the competitor’s kit or each competitor may bring their own hats, aprons, and sanitary gloves.  When handling foodstuffs, all competitors will wear sanitary, disposable gloves.  While costumes are permitted and encouraged, they must include a hat, an apron, and sanitary, disposable gloves.


Each Amateur or Professional competitor must be 18 years or older and assistants must be 12 years or older.  Each Young Chef competitor must be between 12-17 years of age.  Each competitor should have an assistant to help with cooking.  Assistants must be at least 12 years of age.  Assistants under the age of 18 must be paired with an adult competitor over the age of 18.  The assistants will also need to wear sanitary, disposable gloves and maintain a safe food environment.  The assistant will be responsible for raising the designated cheese flag and event staff will pick up the sandwich.


Each competitor must prepare two regular-sized grilled cheese sandwich for judging purposes.  The sandwiches must be grilled using the equipment provided.  The competitor will decide which sandwich is cut up for the judges to sample and which sandwich will remain whole and judged for presentation.  One of the sandwiches will then be cut by the competitor into four quarters, thereby creating four judging samples.  The other sandwich must remain whole. 


All grilling will be done in separate 15-minute heats.  Each competitor will have only 15 minutes per category to complete their grilling.  You may prepare additional ingredients in advance of the competition (e.g. sauté onions and mushrooms, make a compote, make a compound butter, etc.).  The competition will begin with the command:  “Spatulas up!”  An official electronic timer is displayed to assist competitors participating in each event.  When the time limit is reached, time will be called with the command “Spatulas down!”  Each competitor, regardless of whether they are competing in multiple categories, will be required to break down their station and clean up at the end of each individual heat.


Mandatory Competitors Meeting:  10:15-10:45 am


Amateur-Classic: 11:00-11:15 am


Professional-Classic: 11:30-11:45 am


Amateur-Classic Plus One:  12:00-12:15 am


Professional-Classic Plus One:  12:30-12:45 am


Young Chefs (open sandwich category):  1:00-1:15 pm


Amateur-Classic Plus Extras:  1:30-1:45 pm


Professional-Classic Plus Extras:  2:00-2:15 pm


Amateur-Classic Dessert:  2:30-2:45 pm


Professional-Classic Dessert:  3:00-3:15 pm


Competitors are required to check-in from 9:30-10:15 am and attend the mandatory competitors’ meeting at 10:30 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 15 minutes, the heat will end with the command:  “Spatulas Down!”


Judging Rules

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 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.  Points will be awarded by the judges based upon the following criteria:

Presentation (how does the sandwich look?):  up to 10 points possible 

Taste (how does the sandwich taste?): up to 20 points possible


Style (is this sandwich special?):  up to 10 points possible


Sandwich Categories Definitions
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.)

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.)


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.


Classic Plus Extras:  a savory (as a 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 either 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.



The top three scores for each category will be declared first, second, and third place winners for both Professional, Amateur, and Young Chef classifications.  Winners will receive various prizes. 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.