In 2011 I was ready to turn my passion for cooking into something more than a hobby. I looked into enrolling in Le Cordon Bleu (just a year after graduating with my masters in occupational therapy-besides the point) only to be discouraged by the high tuition costs.
Why not try out for MasterChef?!?!—-auditions take place here in Hollywood. Unfortunately, I didn’t have that tv charisma or show enough cleavage to make it through the first round-surely it wasn’t due to my cooking skills.
Shortly after I decided to start a food blog, however, the voices of self-doubt and fear took over and within a blink of an eye, I convinced myself I wasn’t good enough. My passion dimmed and I continued on with my day job.
In 2012 my friends mentioned this Grilled Cheese Invitational where amateur and professional chefs competed alongside one another in the hopes of winning first place. No experience required! Great! Where do I sign up?
The Grilled Cheese Invitational occurred every year since 2003 created by Tim Walker who had a dream to make the Grilled Cheese Great Again, which quickly grew into the world’s largest grilled cheese competition where thousands of home cooks like myself and professional chefs competed.
Those who won went on to have successful food blogs, opened their own restaurants, and food trucks (the famous grilled cheese food truck that is now a franchise).
This could be my ticket into the food world!
Luckily my husband was a good sport and signed up to be my partner (had no choice from the moment he said, “I do).”
Each team has a station that includes a hot pan and once you take your place you have 55 mins. from prep to finish to crank out 20 samples, which is a total of 5 sandwiches when you cut them into 4 squares.
There are three categories you are judged on:
- Weird factor
Who were the judges?
The judges were generally from food truck vendors, from breweries, food writers, and of course the big cheese on campus: Tim Walker himself!
What was in your grilled cheese?
I don’t even remember! I do remember our station turning into Hell’s Kitchen as soon as that timer started and barking orders at Gary:
Start the hot pot! Shred that cheese faster! The pan isn’t heating…fix it!
Before I knew it the I heard the voice: “Spatulas Down!“
Did we make the required amount of samples?
Did we win?
No. Didn’t even place and don’t even recall seeing Tim Walker come by our station.
Those feelings of self-doubt came rushing back and I was ready to accept my fate that food will have to just be a hobby until I heard them announce the winner………
1st Place: Vegannnnnn Cheeeesssseeee!!!!!!
What?!?!?! The whole point of a grilled cheese is cheeeesseeeee. Nothing against vegans but it’s the main ingredient!!!!!!!!!!
My feelings of defeat turned into a fire; Right then and there I decided I’m coming back with a vengeance with cheese blazing and taking vegan cheese down to the ground!
From that moment the only voice I heard in my head was one of determination that said WIN!
One problem: Who was going to be my partner?
Gary was traumatized by my competitive spirit (can’t blame him) then my friend Adam kindly volunteered himself–poor guy didn’t know what he was getting himself into. Nonetheless, I had a partner to go to battle with in cheese warfare!
Sandwich Name: P*rk Brie Baby One More Thyme
The night before I dreamed of taking our place on stage as we basked in a cheese of glory as we claimed our 1st prize trophy beaming with pride!
The next morning as we walked into that invitational it was Dejavu, but this time the fear and self-doubt were dominated by determination.
We had some pre-game jitters during set-up and some mishaps occurred—Adam cutting his thumb while prepping hence the Michael Jackson blue glove look and the pan wasn’t heating up—minor catastrophes in a cooking competition!
Adam: “Becky its not heating up fast enough–its taking too long!”
Me: “What do we do?” (ll put my hand on top—not helping).
Adam: “Becky look—Those guys are making goat shapes out of their grilled cheese!”
Me: “They have beer—I need a beer. Adam focus!”
Me: “Adam look at me…looook at me–Focus on our sandwich and our sandwich only. We got this!”
Finally we manage to execute our first round of samples to the judges…..
Executive Judges: “Oh my god! That sandwich was amazing!”
Now lets have some fun piggy style!
Crowd is chanting—–Pork Brie Baby One More Thyme!!!!
Mr. Big Cheese himself—The Great Tim Walker approaches our station and wants to try our sandwich!
Well….What does he think? Does he like it?
Mr. Big Cheese: “Wow! Fantastic! Over the top!”
Ironically that was our last sandwich as time was up and spatula’s were down!
Adam and I celebrated because we knew we came and conquered that day. We created something special, however we still wanted to win!
There were two trophies that day the Executive Judge Award and the People’s Choice Award.
Announcer: “Executive Judge Award goes to a sandwich that was savory, complex, and packed a lot of flavor—-P*rk Brie Baby One More Thyme!
AAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH! I have been waiting for this moment ever since last year when we were in the loser bracket—I may have shed a tear or two! The elation we felt was indescribable!
Wait it wasn’t over………..time for the People Choice Award..….
The People’s Choice Award: This is the grand prize like winning the best picture award in the Oscars!
Drum Roll Please………….
3rd place: Not Us
2nd place: P*rk Brie Baby One More Thyme!: You have got to be kidding–We did it again! P*rk Brie Baby One More Thyme is right! We aimed for the moon and landed on the stars! My world has been turned upside down!
1st place: You never would guess, but if you did congrats because I am still dumbfounded on how vegan cheese can win yet again this year—Next year we are taking you down! We will land on that moon!
The biggest victory for me was realizing when I go out into the world and set goals without seeing obstacles and by quieting the voices of self-doubt and fear I can materialize my dreams into reality.
It’s not easy and you can see below there were some casualties….
I now choose to hear a powerful voice that says: Who are you not to do this? Nothing is hard. You have something unique to share so share it!
Fast forward eight years later I’m finally sharing my dreams with you all–my food blog and a youtube cooking channel…….
A big shout out to Adam for being an amazing team worker and for mad skills in roasting meats! A big thank you to Karina and Melanie for making our homemade piggy toothpicks and of course to Gary for being the biggest fan and supportive cheerleader on the sidelines!
Success takes a village! Muah!