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NYC’s Grilled Cheese Champion Crowned at The Big Cheesy

Tartinery's grilled cheese

Tartinery Restaurant's delicious Croque Madame

The smell of warm, intoxicating cheese permeates the air the second you walk into The Big Cheesy, a grilled cheese showdown among seven of New York City’s grilled cheese connoisseurs, hosted at pop-up event space Openhouse Gallery. I had my work cut out for me — tasting one amazing grilled cheese sandwich after the next. But only one shop would win and become the ultimate Grilled Cheese Champ.

Tartinery’s Croque Madame (pictured above) scored points for being the most avant garde. Gruyere and ham formed a crispy, meaty coating on poliane bread with a fried egg on top. Although it was definitely a bit rich, it tasted exactly like a Croque Madame from Paris.

Lucy's Whey's grilled cheese

Lucy’s Whey's Grilled Cheese

The classic grilled cheese from Lucy’s Whey earned the Chelsea Market shop third place. Prairie Breeze cheddar, sea salt and olive oil with a touch of fig jam on Amy’s Bread was both simple and delicious. The cheese—a.k.a the best part—was really the star.

Murray’s Cheese Shop presented an “Atomic Bomb” of braised short rib and taleggio with caramelized onions, spicy relish and jalapeno peppers that tasted even better dipped in mazi piri piri hot sauce.

tomato soup and grilled cheese

Little Muenster’s Rounded Grilled Cheeses with Tomato Soup

Little Muenster’s rounded grilled cheeses served with tomato soup were a bite-size delight. The guyere, tallegio and fontina cheeses with membrillo, a fruit paste, and prosciutto on organic peasant bread came in second place.

Casellula Cheese and Wine Cafes mix of Scharfer Max, gruyere and Emmenthaler Swiss cheeses with pickled pepper relish had just the right amount of kick.

Big Daddy's grilled cheese

Big Daddy’s Mac-and-Cheese Masterpiece

The most decadent grilled cheese was definitely Big Daddy’s. Between two slices of Orwasher’s bread was macaroni with a Parmesan crust and six different types of cheese, plus bacon, tomato and truffle oil. If you love mac and cheese, this sandwich is for you.

Melt Shop's grilled cheese

A stack of Melt Shop's winning grilled cheeses.

The winner was Melt Shop with a sandwich trio. Sharp cheddar and pulled pork with homemade BBQ sauce on sourdough bread; blue and cheddar cheese with bacon and cranberry pepper jam on sourdough; goat cheese and fontina with roasted wild mushrooms and parsley pesto. Although it’s unclear whether presenting three sandwiches could be considered cheating, all three were equally delicious.

Now that you’re drooling, try one of these Cooking Channel recipes at home:

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Comments (1066)

  1. Robin Wilson posted 02/29/2012

    I honestly had no idea there were so many ways to make grilled cheese. This changed my thinking and made me hungry all at the same time!

  2. Christina posted 02/29/2012

    I grew up on grilled cheese sandwiches and still eat them til this day!!! But I need to find a great place that sells GF sandwiches.

    Just made Fried Chicken, come see! http://becauseofmadalene.blogspot.com/2012/02/big

    Christina

  3. dauphin posted 03/01/2012

    Ah, grilled cheese. It was George Duran's Ham on the Street show that had people taste testing cheese and jam combo's years ago. Seems the way to go today.

    Rules to good sandwiches; one, always use good bread or at least the one you like best. Second, of course is good cheese. Third, a good pan or griddle. The rest is up to your imagination.

    Personal favorites:

    Serrano Ham and Manchego on Country Bread with a Tapanade Spread for extra oomph.
    Cheddar, Jalapeno Jack, Feta, Cotija and Green Onions in a Flour Tortilla.
    Emmentaler and Sour Cherry Preserves on Rye.

    And last, my sons favorite:

    Mozzarella, Parmesan and Spicy Pepperoni on Sour Dough with Homemade Pizza Sauce.

  4. Julie posted 03/02/2012

    Never thought of the jam addition…will definitely give it a whirl!

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