Dulany Hall, Columbia College’s dining facility, always has good food.
Just not quite this good.
On Sept. 27, five brave judges from Grossnickle Career Services Center and the Music, Art, Enrollment Management and Public Relations departments sat amidst the pungent fumes of sizzling cheese and bread to judge 16 different teams’ creations.
The contest was the brainchild of the student group Passport to Homecoming 2011. The winning team was in line to receive a $100 gift card to Addison’s, a local Columbia, Mo., fine eatery and have their grilled cheese concoction served in Dulany Hall the following evening.
Team names ranged from the cheesy (Cheese Balls, Cheesalicious) to the wild (Goathouse, Team Annihilation) and the inexplicable (Montana, Twin 1, Team Bacon, Nezi). Another team was named after a participant’s grandmother, who apparently made a mean grilled cheese.
Students lined up to cook their sandwiches on the spot with a wide array of ingredients: cream cheese, Swiss, American, provolone, pepper jack, mozzarella, parmesan and cheddar cheese, of course, but also such veggies as tomatoes and red peppers and such surprises as bacon, ham, avocado, pepperoni, mushrooms, olives, corn, vinegar, oil and spicy mustard.
“Was there a hint of cinnamon in that one?” one judge said to another, who, after sampling 13 sandwiches, was looking a bit green.
Some of these masterpieces barely qualified as grilled cheese, with massive layers of meat; others were virtual works of art; and a few were just, well, grilled cheese.
“It’s a grilled cheese contest,” one participant said. “My ingredients are just bread and cheese.”
In the end, the very first creation presented to the judges from Team Cheesalicious won. The team consisted of students Tram Nguyen, Trang Nguyen, Cindy Chang and Aleah Hayes.
This was a meticulous blend of cream cheese and at least two other cheeses, artfully nestled in a bed of lettuce and corn with a centerpiece of red peppers and presented with a flourish.
“These kids know how to cook,” one judge was overheard to say as he waddled off.
A photographer from Passport to Homecoming 2011 snapped photos of the judges at contest’s end. She grouped them all together and asked them to say – well, you know.