Winner: Inverted Grilled Cheese
Restaurant: Hotel Derek, Houston
Sandwich creator: Chef Shannen Tune
Inspiration: “One kind of cheese is never good enough for a grilled cheese. And bacon. Always bacon!”
Key ingredients: Boursin, white cheddar, blue cheese, pesto, Texas toast, bacon. Served with tomato bisque
Why it’s special: Its wildly inventive shape
Food cost: 16.3 percent
Awards: Winner of the Houston Celebrity Chef Game Day Recipe Challenge; “It’s everything a sandwich should be, all wrapped up in crispy bacon,” Zagat.
What the judges said: It’s funny how one gets nostalgic about the grilled cheese sandwich mom made with Wonder Bread and cheese slices. That’s love, because our older selves now know that mom’s grilled-cheese sandwich was, well, just ok. These days chefs are making incredible grilled cheese sandwiches using the same basic formula mom used, but with terrific ingredients. Chef Shannen threw all that out the window and decided to reinvent the sandwich entirely. In a move that would make Dr. Frankenstein proud, he’s turned it inside out, creating an entirely new monster of flavor and texture. His version requires the use of an oven to crisp the bacon and melt the cheese. No laboratory necessary. How about next Mother’s Day you make this for the woman who rescued your little self from a thousand bad dreams? You owe her that.
• Award Winner: Melt Shop, New York City
• Grilled Cheese: Tiburon Tavern, Tiburon, CA