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.
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.
Registration is now open to enter the challenge!
Key dates for the competition :
- Closing date for entries: 31 January 2024
- Grilled! Grilled Cheese Challenge: Tuesday 27 February 2024 from 10am to 1pm.
This competition is open exclusively to professionals (creamery-cheesemakers, restaurateurs, caterers, delicatessens, etc.).
*Please note: Travel to take part in the competition is not covered by the organizers. Raw materials to make your Grilled Cheese are provided by the show.
Thibault DUVAL (France)
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.
Alex ARMSTRONG (USA)
Mathew CARVER (United-Kingdom)
Nick BAYNE (United Kingdom)
Pascal LIBERATI (France)
Discover the jury of the first edition of the Grilled! Challenge:
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!
Charlène Bouy, Fromagerie Charlicot Paris 11
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...!
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
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.
Have a ‘grate’ day with Boska!