Dynamic, lively and bilingual, Grillé! is an offbeat competition that highlights eating habits outside France and reflects new eating habits.

Grilled Cheese Challenge!

The winner of the Grilled! Grilled Cheese Challenge held on February 27, 2024 is Léo Begin!

Croque-monsieur, Toastie, Grilled-cheese sandwich... whatever you call it, the result is the same: melting cheese between two slices of bread, a simple, comfort-food pleasure that has conquered taste buds all over the world. 8 candidates representing 8 countries will compete in an energetic, relaxed atmosphere to sublimate the surprise cheeses selected at the Show. Compulsory products, surprise cheeses, a touch of music, a young and friendly panel of judges and some crack MCs - let’s Grill!

If we take a look at the Grilled Cheese Sandwich, the trendiest name in recent times, we can attribute it to several countries.

Leaving aside France, which has had the annoying habit since the 19th century of slipping jam-bon in with the cheese to make a croque-monsieur, certainly a mainstay of family food that has spawned Proust's Madeline for generations, but not solely centred on cheese.

So it's a safe bet that the English toastie is the one that started it all, even if it's not just topped with cheddar and is cooked in a special machine, as in France, finding its place at breakfast or as street food on the go.

An ocean further on, and thanks to thousands of university studies, we can pinpoint the birth of a hot sandwich filled only with a mixture of melted cheeses in the USA in the 1920s, which quickly took on the name Grilled Cheese Sandwich. Affordable with the development of industrial dairies and bakeries, comforting, quickly eaten with a bowl of tomato soup, easy to make - these are just some of the advantages that have seen it through a century and several crises, including the Great Depression of the 1930s and the Second World War, when it was served to GIs.

The historical difference between the European versions and the New World version is certainly the use of a generously buttered frying pan to grill the sandwich and a mixture of several cheeses, often pasteurised (Cheddar, Monterey Jack, etc.), or even "processed cheeses", the equivalent of our processed cheeses.

Since then, Grilled Cheese Sandwiches can be found all over the world, particularly in countries with a large Anglo-Saxon population. It's virtually inconceivable for a retail creamery-cheesemonger in Australia not to offer one for lunch, every trendy bar has a more or less convoluted version and there are even best address guides province by province. Clarified butter is king to add even more indulgence and the thread that drips between the two halves of the sand-wich is celebrated on all the social networks.

And the world has caught on to the phenomenon, following in the footsteps of the 'digital no-mad' generation who are importing their eating habits to major international hubs (Singapore, Dubai, Bali, Shanghai...) and even, back to basics, with several dedicated addresses in Paris.

Grilled cheese team

The Grilled Cheese Sandwich Challenge is set to be international, fast-paced and fun. Based on a battle format, 8 candidates from 8 countries will face off in knockout matches, with different imposed cheeses in each round, but all from the Salon du Fromage stands. Once the cheeses have been revealed, the sandwich makers will have 15 minutes to choose their quality breads and the appropriate grocery products to spice up their productions. The whole thing will be set to music and in a relaxed atmosphere, to the glory of melted cheese.

The winner will be presented with a trophy and gifts from the Challenge's various partners

This competition is open exclusively to professionals (creamery-cheesemakers, restaurateurs, caterers, delicatessens, etc.).

The winners 2024

Picture of Léo Begin

Champion: Léo BEGIN (Belgium)

Léo is a cream-maker and cheesemaker in Brussels, Belgium, where he opened La Fruitière in 2017 with his mother. Practically born in a Comté vat, he chose the Milky Way in 2012. In 2016 he obtained his CQP in cheese-making in Paris. Fascinated by the terroir and the little and big stories that make up the world of cheese, he decided to move to Belgium to open a polymorphous place that combines a retail creamery, a cheese bar and an urban dairy.

Curious and voracious, he has forged a long relationship with the world of beer in particular, with whom he loves to collaborate on a regular basis at international level.

Picture of Thibault Duval

2nd place: Thibault DUVAL (France)

Thibault, 34, was born in Annecy. After studying landscape design, taking a step into the events business, then another in catering, he found himself propelled into the world of cheese.
Picture of Nick Bayne

3rd place: Nick BAYNE (United Kingdom)

The bronze medallist in the 2023 Concours Mondial du Meilleur Fromager, and the champion of the Cheesemonger Invitational in Summer 2015, Nick Bayne began working for The Fine Cheese Co. after moving to the United Kingdom in early 2018. He is currently responsible for sourcing and selecting all European artisan cheeses that The Fine Cheese Co. imports to the UK. He also contributes a regular column to Taste of France, and is a member of the Guilde Internationale des Fromagers.

The other candidates 2024

Picture of Alex Armstrong


Alex Armstrong is a Certified Cheese Professional (CCP™) and Certified Cheese Sensory Evaluator (CCSE™) working with Jasper Hill Farm in Greensboro, Vermont USA. He has been in the cheese industry for over 10 years beginning as an apprentice cheesemaker before moving into cheesemongering across the US.
Picture of Mathew Carver

Mathew CARVER (United-Kingdom)

In 2014 Mathew started The Cheese Truck a yellow 1970’s ex-ice cream van serving irresistible grilled cheese sandwiches. Sourcing all cheese direct from small producers they set about to champion British Cheese. Fast forward 10 years and he’s added four cheese focused sites to his endeavours including the worlds first cheese conveyor belt restaurant in Covent Garden, London as well as a co-authoring The Cheese Life book. He knows a thing or two about melting cheese.
Picture of Pascal Liberati

Pascal LIBERATI (France)

Discover the jury of the first edition of the Grilled! Challenge:

Charlotte Petitjean

Charlotte Petitjean, Cheese bar Lyon

Charlotte opened her cheese shop in Lyon 4 years ago, after 10 years in finance and a career change. Today, she gives workshops to awaken the taste buds, as well as cooking courses based around cheese.

Her vision of the profession? Respect products, love them, sublimate them, cook them, match them. Find the brilliance in each cheese and make tasting it a pleasure!

Follow her on Instagram
Picture of Charlène Bouy

Charlène Bouy, Fromagerie Charlicot Paris 11

Following a career change, Charlène opened her cheese shop 8 years ago in the 11th arrondissement of Paris.

Her speciality? Cocktail platters! She still takes great pleasure in making cheese platters (or platters with cold meats), with fine cuts, different shapes and colours, depending on her mood at the time...!
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Picture of Bastien Petit

Bastien Petit

In 2014, he launched his blog "B'Cook" with the aim of sharing with as many people as possible the French art of living through approved recipes, gourmet addresses to discover and products to try.
A keen food photographer, he set up his Instagram page in 2015 to showcase his discoveries through photos, bringing this passion to life even more. It's often said that "gluttony is a bad habit". Bastien would say that it is the greatest of qualities, because it is this greed that drives him to discover new flavours, new products and new combinations every day.
His approach to cooking: a cuisine synonymous with sharing, generosity and discovery, true to his character. These are the values that guide him every day. 

@Crédit Photo : Géraldine Martens

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The event will be hosted by the talented Mathieu Guérineau, who is also the official presenter of Air Guitar France and the Cheese Tasting Tour, a concept devised with his co-presenter François Robin, one of France's Best Cheese Craftsmen, who also co-created the Challenge with the Salon du Fromage. It was while he was travelling the world that he came across this trend in all the capitals and that the idea of a competition on this theme came to him.

The contest's partners


Founded in 1932 by Pierre Poilâne, the Poilâne bakery has stood the test of time, combining the art of living, good food and creativity. Today, Apollonia Poilâne, the third generation to run the company, continues to apply the same unique approach to her craft as a baker: uncompromising expertise, a commitment to social and environmental responsibility and a passion for the art of baking. Combined with the use of exceptional stone-ground flours, and by perpetuating an ancestral technique of slow fermentation on natural leaven and baking over a wood fire, Poilâne sincerely expresses its definition of the baker's craft: the transformation of cereals through fermentation to produce breads with unique tastes, rich in nutrients and healthy. Located at 8 rue du cherche midi, in the heart of Saint Germain des Prés (Paris 6th arrondissement), the first Poilâne bakery is still the nerve centre of a company with an international reputation. Today, Poilâne breads, biscuits and pastries can be found in Paris (5 shops, including 3 opened on the Right Bank by Apollonia Poilâne) and in London. Numerous cafés, restaurants and hotels, as well as delicatessens and cheese shops, are delivered daily. Bread and biscuits are shipped fresh to regions around the world.

We create fun, cool and clever Deli Counter Tools, and believe that quality and sustainability go hand in hand. Our goal is to design products that are 100% timeless and will last a lifetime. Rooted in Holland near Gouda, our legacy began with blacksmith Willem Bos, crafting cheese tools for local farmers. Since then, it has been our family tradition to create fun and clever cheese tools. Whether cutting, slicing, splitting, or packing, BOSKA’s professional tools make food cool, increase sales, and reduce waste.

Have a ‘grate’ day with Boska!