Indulge in gooey cheesiness for Grilled Cheese Month

| March 30, 2023 | 0 Comments

Photo courtesy of Joan’s on Third

The Australians call them jaffles. In Brazil, they’re bauru. In Italy, panini. The British name is toasties. Käsetost is its moniker in Germany. And we Americans call them grilled cheese sandwiches.

A Florida woman sold a grilled cheese with a burn mark resembling the Virgin Mary to a Las Vegas casino for $28,000 in 2004. Competitive eater Joey Chestnut once set a record in 2007 for eating 47 of them in 10 minutes.

Most of us associate these ooey, gooey grilled cheeses with our youth. But admit it, who doesn’t crave one now and again? In fact, according to “Daily Dish Magazine,” “three-fourths of people who buy sliced cheese make at least one grilled cheese sandwich a month.”

April has the honor of being designated National Grilled Cheese Month; April 12 is officially dubbed National Grilled Cheese Day. Now is the time to indulge your craving.

Although grilled cheese recipes appeared in ancient Roman texts, it wasn’t until the 1960s that the sandwich we know and love took its present form. For most of its history, grilled cheese consisted of only one piece of bread topped with melted sliced or grated cheese and called a melted cheese or toasted cheese sandwich.

Patent and slicing

According to the Cheesy Street Grill restaurant, two events greatly advanced the lowly melted-cheese-and-bread combination: James L. Kraft’s 1916 patented process for pasteurizing cheese so it could travel without spoiling, and the invention in 1928 of the automatic bread slicer by Otto Frederick Rohwedder. See

Pasteurized cheese made it possible for World War II navy ship cooks to carry cheese for extended durations. The Committed Pig restaurant reports that navy cooks used government-issued cookbooks to make open face “American Cheese filling” sandwiches. See

Farmers Almanac” states that, during the Great Depression, these inexpensive “cheese dreams” were served in tomato sauce. By 1949, a second, top slice of bread was often added.

In 1950, Kraft began distributing individually wrapped slices of American cheese to supermarkets everywhere, making it even easier to slap together a melted cheese sandwich. These sandwiches were served in schools with tomato soup to boost vitamin C, which probably accounts for the popularity of that classic soup and sandwich combination.

In the 1960s, we finally settled on two slices of bread and the name “grilled cheese sandwich.”

At its simplest — American cheese, bread and heat — grilled cheeses are still satisfying, but there are many variations, from fancy cheeses to add-ons like tomatoes and bacon or guacamole.

Chefs’ recipes

Local Chef Eric Greenspan, author of “The Great Grilled Cheese Book: Grown-Up Recipes for a Childhood Classic,” won the 2008 Grilled Cheese Invitational with “The Champ,” a butter-sautéed Taleggio cheese sandwich on raisin bread with arugula and a homemade chunky relish of dried apricots, capers, Dijon mustard and olive oil.

Today Show” regulars The Grill Dads (Mark Anderson and Ryan Fey — Anderson lives in Idaho, but Fey lives just west of Fairfax Avenue) favor cooking their roasted poblano grilled cheese on a gas grill, as described in their cookbook, “The Best Grilling Cookbook Ever Written by Two Idiots.” Between thick slices of white bread, they add grilled poblano pepper strips, sliced grilled yellow onions, shredded queso quesadilla and Oaxaca cheeses and a small handful of crushed black bean tortilla chips for texture. They spread mayonnaise on the grilling sides of the bread, rather than butter. Mayonnaise has a higher smoke point, so it will be less likely to burn.

To celebrate National Grilled Cheese Month the easy way, try one of the following local restaurants with grilled cheese on their menus.

Tom Bergin’s serves a grilled three-cheese sandwich with tomato soup, $17. 840 S. Fairfax Ave. 323-936-7151.

Musso & Frank Grill features a grilled cheese on brioche, $12 (when open for lunch). 6667 Hollywood Blvd. 323-467-7788.

Joan’s on Third has an oversized buttery $14.50 version and also a sophisticated fromage d’affinois with apricot glazed ham on a pressed ficelle (skinny baguette), $8.95. 8350 W. Third St. 323-655-2285.

The Melt is dedicated to all things cheesy, including a melty macaroni and cheese sandwich, $9.49. 7111 Santa Monica Blvd. 213-344-4906.

Swingers Diner stuffs its grilled cheese with Jack and cheddar cheeses, guacamole, tomatoes and grilled onions on grilled sourdough, $15.95. 8020 Beverly Blvd. 323-591-0046.

   Alas, one must travel to New York City for the grilled cheese that holds the 2019 Guinness World Record for most expensive sandwich.

The $214 Quintessential Grilled Cheese from Serendipity 3 restaurant is made with Dom Perignon bread with 24k gold flakes, white truffle butter, and cheese made from rare Italian Podolica cows that only lactate in May and June. 225 E. 60th St., New York City; 212-838-3531.

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Category: Entertainment

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