Spatulas Up!

When Master of Ceremonies Kyle Cherek (Wisconsin Foodie) announced “Spatulas Up,” competitors in yesterday’s Third Annual Wisconsin Grilled Cheese Competition had 15 minutes to make their sandwiches. Three of the 120 competitors were Mineral Pointers Lauren Powers, Lisa Hay (me) and Dave Lawson.


Queen Mother – Lauren Powers

Lauren deserves an award just for showing up at the competition Sunday morning. The night before, Lauren’s sweet daughter Elise was crowned Mineral Point Junior Prom Queen.



In addition to all the excitement, Lauren chaperoned a post-prom party at the bowling alley until 3 a.m.. Understandably, Lauren was thinking of skipping the Grilled Cheese competition, but the newly crowned Elise told Lauren “you signed up for this, you should do it.”

And do it she did! In a competitive 20-person heat, Lauren took 3rd place for Amateur Classic. And she did it with a Mineral Point classic – Hook’s 5-year cheddar. Lauren was assisted by her sister, shown below photo-bombing this photo of Lauren and Kyle Cherek.


Obviously, everyone was having fun. Kyle gets points for wearing a cheese colored pocket square.

Third Time Not The Charm – Lisa Hay

If there’s such a thing as a losing streak, I am certainly on one. I thought that if I competed in three categories I would increase my odds of winning.

photo-606Wrong! Instead I was overwhelmed. Not only did I need to pack a cooler to make 18 sandwiches, but the experimentation phase leading up to the competition was unpleasant. Let’s just say Pop Rocks do not really work in a grilled cheese.

Frank Beaman (one of many Pointers in attendance) captured the moment when my assistant, Don (who may need a bigger hat) took a phone call in the middle of the competition.

IMG_3905Actually, Don, the real cook in our family, was very supportive throughout this fiasco. And hearing Point Five play throughout the afternoon was a source of comfort.

Life of the Party – Dave Lawson

In his first, but certainly not his last competition, Dave Lawson put forth a valiant effort.

photo-604 Dave competed in the “Extras” category which allows for unlimited ingredients. After much thoughtful experimentation, Dave went with his Thanksgiving sandwich, which involved him roasting a turkey and making bread from scratch. Although Dave didn’t place this year, he clearly had a good time and he learned for next year. Dave says he needs to focus more on the cheese and “make it the star.”


Most of you are probably wondering, “who won?” and “what did he make?” Interestingly, a guy named John Christiansen, won first place in all four amateur categories (one was a tie for first). Throughout the competition he used compound butters and a digital-laser thermometer to gauge the inner-cheese temperature. Here are his recipes as found on the event website:

Classic” – mushroom compound butter & Carr Valley Black Sheep Truffle Cheese;

Plus-One” – Sendick’s Muenster, parsnip, pomegranate glaze, and grated Carr Valley Cave Aged Mellage (on top);

Classic Plus Extras” – bacon compound butter; Dofino Creamy Havarti, andouille sausage, mettwurst, bratwurst, Italian bacon, seasonings, onions, celery, garlic, peppers, cayenne, and pepper;

Dessert” – Carr Valley Sweet Cordona, butter, powdered sugar, Craisins marinated in cream sherry, vanilla beans, chocolate syrup and raspberries.

Whoa!  He deserves an award just for thinking up these recipes. My ham and cheese sandwich didn’t stand a chance. (Here’s a link to Carr Valley Cheese – which is a beautiful 1-hour+ drive from Mineral Point.)

In the professional category, The Gouda Girls dominated, as they did last year.  If you’re fortunate to see their Grilled Cheese Truck somewhere, you are in for a treat!

All in all, it was an exhausting but uniquely Wisconsin experience.  As Wisconsin Foodie, Kyle Cherek pointed out, Wisconsin is one of few places where making grilled cheese is a spectator sport.

– Contributed by the Lisa Hay


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14 Responses to Spatulas Up!

  1. tom kelly says:

    Congrats to all of the Pointers who bravely took up their spatulas to do battle!! You are all winners. I think Lisa should get kudos for the best cheese pixie look !

  2. glivingston says:

    So sorry about your loss Lisa, but you get an A for effort. I would take truffles over pop rocks in a grilled cheese any day.

  3. Carole Norm Rule says:

    Enjoyed your commentary re “grilled cheese”…….contest…..Sorry, you didn’t win….maybe Don should enter!!??

  4. jonyhauck says:

    Congrats to ALL and Lauren and Elise !!!

  5. Thank you so much for your wonderful article about the Grilled Cheese Contest. I’m sorry you did not win this year, but I was there, and I can tell you that your dessert sandwich with the beautiful bread looked delicious – and when you dipped the sandwich in the combination of cinnamon and sugar, the smell of that combination reached clear up into the bleachers, and I wanted to snatch that sandwich and devour it! Congratulations Lauren (& Elise, too) & thanks to all the organizers. I got a chance to talk to the Gouda Girls, and they are so amazing, interesting, and funny! You and Don and all the other contributors do such a wonderful job on this page!

  6. phuckthee says:

    outstanding post.

  7. Sorry I missed it–sounded like fun. Did you miss by three votes???? Congrats to Lauren and Elise and everyone who took part. Try again next year!!!

  8. Lauren B. P. says:

    It was GREAT fun – and Lisa this is a wonderful blog on our town and area happenings! I wished you had been recognized for all your hard work and prep (Pop Rocks?!) – And Dave, roasting a Turkey and Baking Bread?!! Wow! I have to say, in the end, I am certain it was the 5 year aged Cheddar from Hook’s that won it for me! Nothing like it!
    So – I would like to put out the challenge to other Mineral Pointers for the 2015 Grilled Cheese Championship – we need 10+ Pointers in the ring competing!! Let’s make our presence known!!
    Go Cheese!! Go Pointers!!

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