(revised 02/10/2011)


The following explains the official rules and regulations for competing in the Austin, TX Regional Grilled Cheese Invitational (GCI) Competition. The GCI retains the right to amend, modify, or terminate the rules at any time and at our sole discretion.

It is the responsibility of the competitor to be familiar with the rules of competing in the event.  A copy of the rules will be made available to any competitor on the day of the event, should you have any questions regarding the rules.


For Competitors

All competitors must register on-line in advance of the competition.  There will be NO ON-SITE REGISTRATION ALLOWED.

There will be a maximum of 65 competitors for this event. Once we have reached capacity for competitors, we will start a waiting list for people to compete. There will be no guarantee of competition implied with the waiting list.

Before registration, all competitors MUST familiarize themselves with the rules as well as educate themselves as to safe and sanitary cooking and handling of food.

For the purposes of fairness, each person will only be allowed to enter ONE (1) sammich per category. That means each contestant can enter a total of FOUR (4) grilled cheese sammiches for the GCI: ONE (1) in Missionary, ONE (1) in Kama Sutra, ONE (1) in Honey Pot, AND ONE (1) in Lambada.

Entrance to the event is a $5 suggested donation but the competitor (1 person) will get free entry.

Note: Teams are permitted, however you will have to fight amongst yourselves as to who gets the trophy if you win.

See the Competitor Rules below for more details.


What Will Be Provided to You

For competition, each competitor will receive a GCI competition kit that will contain the following:

  • Skillet
  • Spatula
  • Disposable Gloves
  • Safe Food Handling Information Sheet
  • Official Sammich plates w/votes attached
  • Rules sheet

Onsite, you will be assigned to a grilling station relative to your grilling heat.  The GCI will provide cooking stoves for the event. There will be sanitizing stations available for competitors to sanitize their cooking equipment, before, during and after they compete.

What You Need to Bring

Please be sure to bring any and all supplies and ingredients necessary to make twenty (20) judging samples.  That means bread, butter, and cheese at the very minimum. You’ll probably want to bring a cutting board and a knife as well.  See the Sammich Categories below for more details on what is allowed for each category. Do not take anyone else’s supplies to complete your sammich. You will be shunned for stealing, disqualified from competition, plus, it just ain’t nice.

PLEASE NOTE: Any perishable items MUST be kept in a cooler with ice and be stored at safe temperatures (below 45F). Please be sure to label your bags/coolers with your name.  When handling any foodstuffs, all competitors WILL wear sanitary, disposable gloves, which are provided in your competition kit.  If you are grilling in costume (which is encouraged), make sure to wear gloves.

Each competitor must have an assistant who will act as a runner to deliver your Sammich from the competition area to the judges in the judging area.  The assistants will also need to wear gloves and maintain a safe food environment.

How Many Sammiches to Make

Be prepared to cook at least five (5) regular sized sammiches for judging purposes. You can then cut those five (5) sammiches into quarters, thereby creating the twenty (20) possible votes from the salivating judges. Obviously, consistency will be a key element to a sammiches’ performance.

Time Limits

All grilling will be done in separate 45-minute heats and each competitor will have only 45 minutes to complete their grilling.  No exceptions!  Spatulas down means spatulas down.  Go ahead and practice so that you can grill 5 sammiches in 45 minutes.

Each competitor, regardless if they are competing in multiple categories, will be required to break down their station and clean up at the end of each heat.  This is to guarantee that each competitor squares off with the same obstacles.

Cheese Runner

All competitors MUST have an assistant who will also act as a runner to get those damn sammiches to the judges. No Runner, no judging. No judging, no glory!

When It’s Time For You to Grill

When you check-in at the event, you will be assigned your sandwich number(s), cooking time and a cooking station.  When it comes time to compete, you’ll report to your cooking station and get ready.  Don’t go and steal someone’s spot and crowd them or anything like that.

How Your Sammich Will Be Judged

See the Judging Rules below for more information.


Each sammich gets 20 votes. Any sammich that does not get at least 16 of its ballots turned in will be disqualified from competition, so it is imperative for judges to turn in their ballots after they have sampled a sammich.

Each sammich will be able to score a total of 50 points per vote. The points are be awarded as follows:

  • Presentation: How does the sammich look? (Scale of 1 – 10, 10 being highest)
  • Taste: How does it taste? (Scale of 1 – 20, 20 being highest)
  • Wessonality: Is this sammich special? Deliver Style points here (Scale of 1- 5, 5 being highest)
  • SPAZ: The Weird Factor (Scale of 1 – 15, 15 being biggest Spaz)

What is a Spaz? You tell us! Essentially, the Spaz sammich is the sammich with the biggest Weird Factor. It could be a sammich so lacking in style it’s a style in itself. Or it could be a sammich high on concept, but lower than dirt on taste. Or maybe a sammich clearly designed simply to annoy. It’s hard to define that elusive “Spaz” quality, but you’ll know it when you see it. Which one of the sammiches totally deserves that title? When you look at a sammich, does it scream SPAZ!? Award it here!

Sammich Categories



Any leavened or unleavened, flour-based and baked thing that looks like and is considered to be “bread” by any cultural or ethnic interpretations.


For the purposes of simplicity, all sammich-grilling lubricants will be hereafter referred to as “Butter.” You can use oils or margarines if you prefer, but make sure it fits within the sammich category you’ve chosen. FLAVORED BUTTERS AND OILS (MAYONNAISE, INFUSED WITH GARLIC, ETC.) ARE NOT PERMITTED IN THE MISSIONARY POSITION CATEGORY.


Made from milk, be it mother’s, goat, cow, cat, rabbit, soy, or almonds.


There will be three categories of sammiches in this competition. Each is outlined as follows:

The Missionary Position:  Standard bread, standard cheese (or cheeses), standard butter and NO ADDITIONAL INGREDIENTS.

The Kama Sutra: Any kind of bread, any kind of butter, and any kind of cheese PLUS additional ingredients(the interior ingredients must be at least 60% cheese).

The Honey Pot: Any kind of bread, any kind of butter, and any kind of cheese (the interior ingredients of the sammich must be at least 60% cheese), and with an overall flavor that is sweet and would best be served as dessert.

The Missionary Position

The Missionary Position Sammich is the standard grilled cheese we have all come to know and love through these many moons. In the past, there has been a slight controversy as well as plenty of confusion over this category.  Standard bread means bread with no extra ingredients or flavorings. In other words, if you’ve got an Olive Loaf you want to make a sammich out of, then enter it in Kama Sutra category. Got some Rosemary Sourdough? Enter the Kama Sutra, Dragon!  Cinnamon Raisin? Too bad, Charlie, enter it in Honey Pot.

Standard butter means just butter or margarine. No flavored oils or butters in this category. Truffle oil is flavored oil. Garlic Infused oil or butter is Kama Sutra. Garlic Butter is  Kama Sutra…you get the picture.  The only interpretation we’ll allow here is Mayonnaise.  Some people grill with mayonnaise.  We’ll allow standard mayonnaise in the Missionary position sammich.

Standard cheese means American, Cheddar (mild through sharp, NO FLAVORING — yes, “smoked” is a flavor), Swiss, etc.   No pepper-jack in this category, jackass. No mean-o Jalapeño either. You get to use more than one cheese if you like, as long as these cheeses do not contain any additional flavorings or spices.

The Missionary Position grilled cheese sammich is all about the art of grilling simple bread, butter, and cheese together, NOT about what meats or spices you can put in a sammich. There is an art to the simplicity of the grilled cheese sammich and we celebrate that perfect icon of Grilled Cheesiness here in the Missionary Position category.

This is, by far, the most difficult category to win. You must have complete mastery over your grille, your cheese and your sammich in order to become a Missionary champion.

The Kama Sutra

The Kama Sutra sammich is any grilled cheese that is made with exotic bread or contains any other ingredients than the above mentioned.

The only rules to the Kama Sutra sammich are as follows: The sammich MUST be grilled and the internal ingredients must be at least 60% CHEESE. Other than that, this is a freestyle category, so go for it. This is where you can create any savory flavor concept your twisted mind will allow, so long as the internal ingredients are at least 60% cheese.

The Kama Sutra category is not only the most liberal, but also the most popular. So you must keep in mind that the competition is fierce and you could be up against the largest block of competitors, so you better get it right!

The Honey Pot

The Honey Pot represents a new frontier in Grilled Cheeses: Dessert! The rules for the Honey Pot are simple. The sammich is a freestyle sammich; therefore, many of the same rules that apply to the Kama Sutra apply here. Exotic ingredients, the sammich must contain at least 60% cheese and must be grilled. The additional rule is it must be dessert and be sweet in nature. Savory sammiches will not be allowed in this category. Sugar and spice and everything nice, however, WILL BE ALLOWED!

Note: GCI management reserves the right to re-assign a sammich to its rightful category or DISQUALIFY the entry completely if there is an obvious attempt at cheating.

The Lambada

The Lambada is a special category designed just for Texas.  The lone star state has a lone new cheesy category.  This quesadilla is a freestyle sammich, therefore many of the same rules that apply to the Kama Sutra apply here. Exotic ingredients, the sammich must contain at least 60% cheese and must be grilled. The additional rule is it must be contained between two tortillas and be considered a quesadilla to your average Texan. Don’t mess with Cheese!  [Please note if you win Best in Show to compete in Los Angeles you will need to compete in whichever category best corresponds to your sammich.]


Once the scores have been received and tallied, the top three scores of each sammich category will be declared winners for both the Amateur and Professional competitions. There will be one winner for the Spaz Award. Winners will receive one trophy per placement for each category. See the “Entries” section for information on teams.

The winner of the Best in Show award (the highest rated sammich over all) will win one plane ticket to compete in the national Grilled Cheese Invitational in Los Angeles on April 24th, 2011.  {The Austin GCI winner has taken 3rd place each time they have competed!}  You will be responsible for lodging, and getting any other team mates there although the GCI organizers will help you to the best of their ability.



Filed in: Austin • Sunday, February 20th, 2011

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GCI pix on Flickr



The Grilled Cheese Invitational (GCI) is the largest, craziest, and most exciting Grilled Cheese cooking contest in the country and is the best thing to happen to sliced cheese since sliced bread! The GCI promotes an almost scary pursuit of perfection in a Grilled Cheese Sammich and allows for amateur and professional chefs to compete side-by-side in the hopes of becoming a true Grilled Cheese Champion.

The event was created by Tim Walker in 2003, in an artist loft in Downtown Los Angeles as a competition between friends and since then, has grown into a national movement dedicated to perfecting the art of grilled cheese, with thousands of cheese fiends and regional competitions across the country.