1st 7th Annual Grilled Cheese Invitational: Where and When and How and Why

Saturday, April 25th, 2009

Los Angeles State Historic Park
(AKA: “The Cornfield”)
Downtown Los Angeles
12pm to 6pm

Los Angeles State Historic Park

1245 N. Spring Street

Los Angeles, CA 90012

View Larger Map


12:00pm – 6:00pm

Competition starts at 1:00pm

Admission Fee:  $5


Competition Fee:  $10

Honestly though, why drive?  You should just take the Gold Line to the Chinatown station.  It’s easier, way more fun and better for everybody, including the planet!

Go ahead, take Metro to the Chinatown Gold Line station!


If you must drive, we STRONGLY SUGGEST that you carpool.


“The 1st 7th Annual Grilled Cheese Invitational is the greatest combination of bravery and unnecessarily competitive cheese the world has seen since Neil Diamond’s 2008 world tour” says Tim Walker, the event’s founder and organizer.

In addition to the competition, KRAFT Singles will be on hand as the event’s title sponsor, offering up thousands of FREE grilled cheese sandwiches to the hungry masses.

Add to all this some cheese-themed poetry, comedy, cheesey  music and exhibition cheese grilling and you have one of the more unique, entertaining and delicious events ever witnessed.


In addition to the competition, KRAFT Singles will be on hand as the event’s title sponsor, offering up thousands of hot, fresh and free Kraft Singles grilled cheese sammiches!

Bring a water bottle!

Do your part this Earth week to help save the environment!  Bring your own refillable water bottle to fill up at the water fountains located within the park and save another plastic tree from senseless destruction.

Registration for competitors is closed.

Sorry, registration for competition closed on April 23rd.  All grilling positions are filled, and there will be no on-site registration.

The categories of competition will be as follows:

  • The Missionary Position: Any kind of bread, any kind of butter and any kind of cheese(or combination of cheeses) but no additional ingredients.
  • The Kama Sutra: Any kind of bread, any kind of butter, and any kind of cheese(or blend of cheeses) plus additional ingredients.
  • The Honey Pot: Any kind of bread, any kind of butter, any kind of cheese (or blend of cheeses), and any additional ingredients, but a sandwich that is sweet in flavor, or would best be served as dessert.

For the winners, there will be a 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th place trophy awarded in each category. There will also be two Spaz awards that will be given to different sammiches that are the biggest Spazes, executive judge awards and mountains of grilled cheese for everybody!

Want to judge the competition?

Who can judge the competition?  YOU!   Yes, anyone with a passion for the cheese is welcome to register as a judge on-site.

For this year’s invitational, all judges must be officially registered.  All registration will take place on-site,  on a first come, first served basis.  Once you register, you will receive judging tickets that can be turned in to the runners for your judging samples.  There will be no un-authorized judging.

All judging is done using standardized ballots and a patented, computerized database that uses a comically unnecessary amount of scientifically calibrated technology to tabulate the results and determine the winners.


Izze™ soda will once again be on hand to pass out free samples of their sodas.  Stop by their booth to grab a can!

Beer/Wine Garden

There will be beer and wine available for purchase at the event, courtesy of the great folks at Lagunitas Brewing and Trinchero Family Estates.  Proceeds of the beer and wine sales will benefit Black Rock Solar,  a 5013c that takes on climate change and speeds the adoption curve of renewable energy by building low or no cost solar power in unlikely places in California, Nevada and other places across the country.

Want to volunteer?

It takes a dedicated crew of courageous  cheese fiends to make an event like this come together.  Want to give us a hand?  Of course you do because you’re totally awesome!  Go ahead and email us at la2009@grilledcheeseinvitational.com

Got questions about the event?  Of course you do!  Send ‘em to hotcheeseygoodness@grilledcheeseinvitational.com

Brothers and sisters of the curd, on Saturday April 25th, the molten seas of melted cheese and chunks of bread will part and all that will remain will be the few, the proud, the Grilled Cheese Champions…Only they will earn the sacred right to hold a trophy up to the angry heavens and scream  “I am a f@#king grilled cheese champion™!”

Yours in bread, butter cheese and victory!

The Grilled Cheese Invitational

This event is brought to you by the absolutely great people at:


Filed in: Featured, Nationals, News • Monday, April 20th, 2009


Is it possible to pre-purchase the tickets or can only purchase on-site at day of competition?
Thank you!!

By David James on April 20th, 2009 at 12:28 PM


Is this going to sell out within minutes and then have to turn people away this year? Or is this year going to be better? Just wondering if I should bother or do something else on Saturday…

I have just rounded everyone up for the grilled cheese and NOW we can’t find the purchase here…we would like to get tickets. The only thing available is for competetitors…help. Thank you.

In answer to the above questions: only competitors can (and need to) pre-register and pre-pay for the event.

Everyone else who is coming to judge or just immerse yourself in the cheeseness can just show up on Saturday. Only the first 1700 (I think) people to arrive and sign up get to judge, but it is unlikely the event will sell out, since it’s at the (very large) state park downtown.

Parking, however, may be tricky with large crowds — people are encouraged to take the Metro Gold Line train which stops right across the street at Chinatown station.

where is this park? I can’t find it for the life of me….

Will you publish the winning recipes (from this year and past events)?
Cheesy please???

How early do we need to show up if we want to be a judge?

If you’re not a judge, what will there be to eat?

LA Weekly had this event listed as happening on Sunday the 26th. Thought you should know.

This event sounds like a BLAST!

Not to offend the (cow milk) cheese purist or the makers of Kraft Singles for that matter, but will there be any “NON_DAIRY” grilled cheese available?

If not, you can catch me in the Beer/Wine Garden quenching my thirst.


Tofu Alan

so is it the 1st annual or the 7th annual?!?!

By TrishKaBob on April 23rd, 2009 at 3:44 PM


I know there is a beer garden…does this mean I can’t bring a back pack full of beers? Will I go broke buying beers at the garden? Anyone have a lead on beer prices?

Is this an event that’s also kid appropriate? My 6 year old loves cheese, and I wouldn’t mind taking him.

The LA Historic Park is across the street from Union Station. Isn’t it easier to take the Metro to the Union Station? I don’t understand why the direction say to get off at the Chinatown station. That would be a bit of a walk.

@Ira: Check out the map — Olvera Street is across from Union Station. Los Angeles State Historic Park (aka “The Cornfield”) is across from the Chinatown Station. But it’s less than a mile walk from Union Station to the park, so you could do either.

@Jake: It is kid-appropriate, although judging gourmet sandwiches might not be appropriate for a 6-year-old’s palate (nor is it fair to the competitors). However, there will be an endless supply of *free* traditional Kraft Singles sammies for all.

@5thYear: I have no idea what alcohol prices will be, but I have learned that, because it is a state park, drinking will only be allowed in the designated beer/wine garden area.

What time should people show up they want to be a judge?

By Gouda Jen on April 24th, 2009 at 2:31 PM

CheeseSailor asked: “so is it the 1st annual or the 7th annual?!?!”

It’s very simple. It’s the 1st Grilled Cheese invitational for the 7th year. This means that it’s the FIRST OF IT’S kind to exist. So if some other grilled cheese event comes along, GCI was here first!

If you would like to judge, what time do you suggest we arrive? Do we have to be there for the entire time of the event? Is there an extra cost to judge?


By ANTONY ARKEL on April 24th, 2009 at 6:08 PM

every year i find out about your contest too late to register. Please put me on your email list so i can compete.


By ANTONY ARKEL on April 24th, 2009 at 6:09 PM

every year i find out about your contest too late. Please put me on your email list so i can compete

By ANTONY ARKEL on April 24th, 2009 at 6:12 PM

if anyone wants to trade their position in the contest, let me know…i am what i am but you’ll never taste anything like my Italian Crispy!!

Next year, how about getting sponsorship by the California cheese people http://www.realcaliforniamilk.com/rcc

and the CA Artisan cheese people?

I mean, Kraft, OK. It’s nostalgic. But it’s so toxic. Next year, let’s share the stage & showcase some *local* cheesemakers! :)

Happy grilled cheese month! (True!)

Where is the after party??

is the event dog-friendly?

Is the event dog friendly?
Will you be able to purchase or taste the grilled cheese sandwich’s that are being judged if you aren’t a judge?

By Oliver Pants on April 25th, 2009 at 11:51 AM


This event was completely unorganized. I got there at 2PM….waited in line for 30 minutes and then was told that there were no more grilled cheeses to sample only grilled cheeses from Kraft. WTF I can make one of those lame assed grilled cheeses at home. Total Bullshit! What a waste of time. You should run this like the Malibu Chili Cook-off and have the crowd sample everyones food all day and then have the crowd pick the best with a ticket in their cut-out box….making everybody waiting in line for over 30 minutes just to get tickets to go in and then I have to wait another 30 minutes to get in the Fucking beer garden. You guys need to get your shit together…..Fucking waste of time…

I would gladly have paid $10 if it meant I could have 5 or 6 or more competitor samples.

I got in line about 11:45, entered nearly an hour later, and found I’d been had. As many Kraft plastic cheese sandwiches as I wanted (and yes, I ate several) but only TWO competitor quarter sandwiches. The second one was after the venue was very crowded, and you had to raise your hand and yell to get your sample.

This event is very doable, but it needs more experienced organizers.

By Evgeny Sibbles on April 25th, 2009 at 9:10 PM

this was a big mess and a waste of time. this event was a great idea but the organizers were freakin rookies. we got there around 2pm and the place was packed. thank God we took the Goldline, i can’t even imagine finding parking in that mess. upon walking into the park’s gates, i was shocked and pissed off to see that i had to wait in that loooong as line. What was more infuriating was to hear that they already ran out of ‘judge’ tickets – so basically i WOULDN’T even be able to sample any of the competitor’s grilled cheese sandwiches!! who gives a rat’s @ss about kraft’s grilled cheese, those taste like crap anyway. fortunately an unhappy father/son were leaving and handed me their judge tickets. unfortunately i then had to jump into another mass of humanity just for the opportunity to BEG for a quarter of a sandwich from the competitors. Any of you see that fat guy in the Cathedral shirt/yellow headband shake his butt and make us beg?? Pathetic and really in poor taste. shame on you fatso!!

what a waste of time. We got there a little past noon, waited 2 HOURS!!!! Only to be told we had to wait in 2 other lines to be able to test the competition sandwiches. So to sum it all up for you, for 3 hours of your life and 5 bucks of your hard earned money..you can get half a wedge of grill cheese sandwich and a free Izzie. I should’ve gone to the dentist.

By kelly vandever on April 26th, 2009 at 12:23 PM

This event Sucked-ASS!!!!!! After taking four trains to get to the “slab of dried grass” they call park, and avoiding the obnoxious fat chick trying to stuff “pow-wow” fliers in my face, I was greeted with what i was told was a two-plus-hour line. There were more people waiting to get in the event than those who were already in, and the fenced area did not look like it could hold everyone. The people leaving seemed disappointed so in order to try and salvage a little bit of the day I ended up in the 30-minute line at Philippe where I at least knew I could get a decent french dip! KRAFT SUCKS!!!!!!! I will never buy your hormone-ridden-fake-cheese-product again, not that I ever did…….

ugh. took 45 minutes to get in after arriving right before 2pm. found out no more judging tickets were available right before getting to the front….

i think the problem was waaay to many people showed up compared to the # of contestants. next time, either limit the # of attendees or have more contestants and free food…

By HONEYPOT CHAMPS on April 27th, 2009 at 10:35 AM

HATERS need to get a life. ITS CHEESE people. GRILLED CHEESE-lovers dont complain, they go home and make their own. The haters just wanted free food, which is understandable, but dont go out of your way to DIS everyone who knew what to expect and what they were doing. Haters dont DESERVE to eat in the presence of champions. There, I said it.

By Grilled Cheese Lover on April 27th, 2009 at 12:50 PM

While it sucked to wait in line to get in, I thought the event was SOO much better than last year.

More competitors, beer/wine garden and more space to spread out to be able to get sandwiches.

By grilledcheese on April 27th, 2009 at 1:36 PM

complete failure of an event, and a waste of my saturday.

I’ve never seen more angry/disappointed people on the train ride back.

I’m not going to even bother putting it on my calendar for next year.

organizers, get your act together.

Wow. Wish I could’ve been there. How many people attended? Sound like there may be a few growing pains. It’s a good thing…it means the even is catching on.

The haters are rather highlarious. We should mock them.

I got there at 1:30 saw the crazy long line, walked up to the front to find it was actually even longer and left. You will have to convince me and a lot of other people you can do this right next year.

Try selling tickets online and just limit your ticket sales to fit your venue.

By Not coming next year on May 2nd, 2009 at 1:31 PM

This isn’t about “hating” or “haters”. It’s about a lot of disappointed people who showed up to support an event that was advertised as a cooking contest where the attendees actually get to TASTE the food. That is not what happened – not by a long shot. Perhaps the organizers weren’t expecting so many people to attend (or try to attend, for most didn’t bother going in when they heard there were no tickets left). So learn from this and make it better next year. And consider selling tickets online ahead of time (perhaps limit the amount per person) so that people don’t stand in a long line for an hour or more only to find out there is no hope when they get to the front of it.

It’s a great idea and when we went to it a few years ago when it was underground and at night, it was fantastic. Now it’s just as people have said – a big mess.



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.