2012 Grate Canadian Grilled Cheese Cook-Off

Chef Jason Bangerter, executive chef at O&B Canteen and Luma in Toronto, is the Master of the Melt after winning the 2012 Grate Canadian Grilled Cheese Cook-Off. (CNW Group/Dairy Farmers of Canada (DFC))

Jason Bangerter, executive chef, O&B Canteen and Luma restaurants in Toronto, won the coveted cheese grater trophy for his Niagara Gold Crunch at the 2012 Grate Canadian Grilled Cheese Cook-Off sponsored by Dairy Farmers of Canada.

Jason Bangerter- Niagara Gold Crunch
Niagara Gold Crunch was judged the best grilled-cheese sandwich of 2012 in Canada.

The winning creation was reminiscent of a gourmet grilled ham and cheese, but the chef used shaved prosciutto and baby arugula as a filling between layers of that wonderful Niagara Gold, spread with a thyme, garlic and black pepper mayo and served with pickled grapes. Chef Bangerter wooed the judges’ sense of smell by completing the grilling by sautéing it in a little extra butter, thyme and garlic. Upper Canada’s cheesemaker was on hand to cheer him on.

From L to R, Chefs Michael Howell, Liana Robberecht, Ned Bell, and Jason Bangerter are all smiles after competing in the 2012 Grate Canadian Grilled Cheese Cook-Off in Toronto. (CNW Group/Dairy Farmers of Canada (DFC))

The competing chefs hailed from four provinces of Canada: Ned Bell, executive chef, Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver, British Columbia; Liana Robberecht, executive chef, Calgary Petroleum Club, Calgary, Alberta; Jason Bangerter, executive chef, O&B Canteen & Luma, Toronto, Ontario; and Michael Howell, chef and owner, Tempestous Culinary, Nova Scotia.

Each chef  prepared two different sandwiches to present to the judges. Bangerter’s other entry was a sweet grilled cheese, filled with strawberries, raspberry liqueur, and layered with basil and Canadian Mascarpone. Served with a lavender milk to drink.

Left to right, Chef Bangerter and Chef Bell, with Judge Kevin Durkee.

The judges were Canadian food writers Sue Riedl, Rita DeMontis and Elizabeth Baird, and Kevin Durkee proprietor of CHEESEWERKS restaurant in Toronto.

The competition was fierce, with Chef Robberecht (left) paired with Chef Howell in the first round of the cook-off.

Chef Howell defended his 2011 title with an Apulia Panini and a Crabby Dipper pictured below, made with Canadian Cream Cheese and smoked Canadian Gouda.

Chef Howells Crabby Dipper.
Chef Howell’s Crabby Dipper.

Chef Robberecht’s entries were The Cherry Bomb made with candied cherry tomatoes and rich Triple Cream Brie and thick sizzling bacon, and the Stampede Centennial with Alberta BBQ beef pulled short ribs complemented by Canadian Provolone and Blue cheese.

Chef Bell used local B.C. cheeses such as Island Brie and Courtenay Cheddar served with a homemade fruit chutney in his The Simple and he went from simple to sweet in his entry Ned Bell Pepper Sweet & Spicy  with B.C. Pacific Pepper Spicy Verdelait and Cheddar Red Hot Pepper surrounding tomatoes in the centre.

For recipes and more click here.

—Rebecca Crosgrey is logistics boss of The Great Canadian Cheese Festival

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lgghEgyFDmY?rel=0&w=560&h=315]

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