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The Sports Bar grilled cheese marries zesty shredded BBQ chicken with creamy gorgonzola fondue and gooey mozzarella.
The Sports Bar grilled cheese marries zesty shredded BBQ chicken with creamy gorgonzola fondue and gooey mozzarella.

Sports Bar grilled cheese wins 2015 Grilled Cheese Academy Recipe Showdown

I must admit I drooled a little when I saw the results of the 2015 Grilled Cheese Academy Recipe Showdown hosted by the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board and Wisconsin Cheese.

And I immediately put the recipe for the winning sandwich on my list of things to make for my next football extravaganza.

The winning sandwich is called "The Sports Bar." And it was created by Stefanie Abi-Rached and Chris Schaldenbrand of Santa Ana, Calif.

The Sports Bar is an amazing looking marriage between two sports bar favorites:

  • shredded chicken smothered in a zesty BBQ sauce 
  • creamy gorgonzola fondue with gooey mozzarella

Matchstick carrots and celery add a crunchy texture, and crispy slices of mustard-coated bread add a final show-stopping element.

"The bar had gourmet hot wings to die for, and so after discussing a million ideas, protein options, cheeses and sauces, we decided nothing would be more true to ourselves than paying homage to football season and our favorite bar’s chicken wings," said Abi-Rached and Schaldenbrand.

A record-breaking 1,732 entries were submitted for the contest, which invited contestants from around the country to create the tastiest, most unique grilled Wisconsin Cheese sandwich. Entries were judged based on taste, creativity and sandwich photography, three top prizes were awarded, with the winning sandwich taking home a grand prize of $15,000.  

Get the Recipe

Full recipes for all winning sandwiches are available for download in the Grilled Cheese Academy’s 2015 Grilled Cheese Recipe Showdown Book of Champions.

Make this mouthwatering burger at home; you'll thank us.
Make this mouthwatering burger at home; you'll thank us. (Photo: Bon Appetit)

If burger heaven exists, this Bon Appetit burger promises to take you there

If you're a golfing fan, chances are you're pretty stoked that the 2015 PGA Championship will return to Wisconsin this year. In fact, the pro-golf tournament will be held at Whistling Straits in Sheboygan for a third time in PGA history. And that's pretty cool in and of itself.

True fans get the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see the greatest golfers on the planet in action. More passive fans, like myself, will have to make due with whatever coverage we can find of the game on television.

Being a food lover, that means I'm less inclined to actually get tickets to the game – and more inclined to make it a great excuse to cook up some delicious golf inspired fare.

And here's where I got lucky.

Since Bon Appetit is a sponsor for this year's PGA Championship, I was fortunate enough to connect with Editor in Chief Adam Rapoport for a phone interview (which will be published tomorrow). After the interview, he sent me a burger recipe that I might just try out this weekend. After all, he promised me that, despite its simplicity, it will take me straight to "burger heaven."

"A great burger is a simple burger," says Rapoport. "It needs to be quality meat. At least 20% fat is imperative. A burger without enough fat won’t have flavor. And then, once you have the right meat, don’t mess with it too much."

Rapoport, who will be in town for the PGA Championship, says he loves burgers grilled; but, he also likes making them in a skillet where they "get a nice crust on the outside."

And, as for cheese, he's a purist of sorts.

"I know I’m going to Wisconsin -- where there's all sorts of great cheeses -- but, I’m a big fan of American cheese on burgers," he notes. "It melts perfectly. Also potato rolls. You need something soft and squishy to hold the burger, but not distract from it.  The bun should never overwhelm the burger. And I can eat them with just mayo -- but a special sauce (mayo and ketchup or some other mix) is also great."

This recipe capitalizes…

This homemade breakfast poutine, inspired by Goodkind restaurant in Bay View.
This homemade breakfast poutine, inspired by Goodkind restaurant in Bay View. (Photo: Lori Fredrich)

Kitchen copycat: Goodkind's breakfast poutine

I owe a great deal of my home cooking inspiration to social media. Take for instance, the post from Goodkind restaurant I ran across last weekend on Instagram.

My first instinct was: "Whoa. I’ve got to get there and eat THAT."  But, a quick look in my wallet told me that staying home was the more prudent thing to do (after all, it’s not like I would stop with poutine; I’d have to get one of their great brunch cocktails and then…)

I’ve made an occasional habit of recreating restaurant dishes at home. And I’ve had pretty good luck with both the artichoke a la mode pizza from Pizza Man (I was suffering from withdrawal when the original restaurant burned down) and the Stendler burrito from Comet Cafe (which is the best way -- ever -- to use up leftover corned beef).

Most recently, I replicated the salted honey pie from Honepie Cafe -- mainly because they don’t put it on their menu half as often as I’d like (OMG, so good).

So, I looked around my kitchen to see what ingredients I had on hand.

Potatoes – check.

Eggs – check.

Milk – check.

Breakfast sausage – check.

Cheese curds – check.

All the necessary components were there, with the exception of the arugula (but I had kale and parsley in the garden, so I figured I’d just make a quick substitution in that case). And I always like a nice excuse to drag out the deep fryer.  So, the challenge was on.

I chopped up some of the Yukon Gold potatoes in my pantry, and then soaked them for a good half-hour (could’ve gone longer, but I was hungry). Then I gave them a good drying with kitchen towels and left them to air-dry the rest of the way. In the meantime, I fried up some breakfast sausage and made a quick milk g…

Give to The Women's Center and get a cocktail at Central Standard Distillery's anniversary bash.
Give to The Women's Center and get a cocktail at Central Standard Distillery's anniversary bash.

Give of yourself and get a cocktail in return

The food and beverage industry in Milwaukee has "sploded" (as my niece would say) over the past few years. Seems brand new restaurants, breweries and distilleries are cropping up all over. And that’s pretty exciting.

It’s also exciting, for me, when I see some of those businesses giving back to the community (my heart "splodes" a little just thinking about it).

Such is the case with ​Central Standard Craft Distillery, who will celebrate its first year in business on July 24, 2015 by collecting donations for The Women’s Center, an organization that has been working since 1977 to provide a wide range of free and comprehensive services to survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and abuse. [Read more about them here.]

The Deets

They’ll be doing so at an event at the Distillery (613 S. 2nd St.) on Friday, July 24 from 5 to 8 p.m.

During the anniversary celebration, if you bring a donation for The Women’s Center (see the wish list of items they need below), you will receive a ticket for a free signature Central Standard cocktail.

It’s a win-win for everyone. You can do good for others -- and celebrate another of our great Milwaukee businesses -- while also kicking back and starting off your weekend with a little tipple. Rumor has it there will also be live music, food trucks and cool give-aways throughout the event.

Bourbon Pre-Orders... Oh, yes!

Oh -- and if you’re a bourbon lover like me -- you’ll also be interested to know that they’ll be taking some of the very first pre-orders for their Bourbon Whiskey -- which has been aging quietly in charred White Oak -- at the event. The bourbon's grain bill is approximately 70% corn, 20% rye and 10% barley, and it has been aging for just over a year. Rumor has it that the spirit has rich caramel notes with a bit of fruit and spice from the rye. It’s been a long wait for this one, but I’m excited to get my first taste of it.

Now, take a look at this list and start thinking about what to bri…