By Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor Published Sep 15, 2016 at 11:48 AM

Each year, the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board hosts a contest, the Grilled Cheese Academy Recipe Showdown, challenging home cooks to submit their best recipes for creative grilled cheese sandwiches.

This year's winner beat out more than 2,000 entries with a sandwich that pairs up America's most iconic flavors with Wisconsin cheese.

The All-American, created by Grace Gutierrez of Longmont, Colo., combines Wisconsin aged cheddar and mascarpone with gooey homemade apple pie filling on slices of churro-battered challah.

A baker and artist, Gutierrez drew inspiration from her Hispanic heritage and favorite sweet treats: churros and spiced apples. And she says she'll use her $15,000 grand prize to return to school.

Following just behind the All-American is $5,000 silver award-winning sandwich, The Bloody Mary, which showcases a medley of Wisconsin cheese curds, mozzarella and parmesan topped with a Bloody Mary relish of heirloom tomatoes, celery leaves and bacon, and served on homemade parmesan-olive bread.

Meanwhile,  The Speakeasy brought home the $3,000 bronze prize with a winning combination of Wisconsin havarti and gouda, paired with caramelized bourbon-brown sugar apricots, candied bacon, marmalade-mustard spread and fried sage leaves, all served on buttery slices of pumpernickel. 

And you don't have to stop drooling yet. Three Judges' Choice winners include The CocinaThe Southern Charm and The Beale Street, each of which received $1,500, inclusion in the  2016 Grilled Cheese Recipe Showdown Book of Champions and a Wisconsin cheese gift basket.

Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor

Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club. 

When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.