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'Big Cheesy' Cook-Off to Crown City's Best Grilled Cheese

City chefs will compete in a grilled cheese cook-off Saturday at the Openhouse Gallery.
City chefs will compete in a grilled cheese cook-off Saturday at the Openhouse Gallery.
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By Patrick Hedlund

DNAinfo News Editor

NOLITA — City chefs will bring comfort food to new heights this weekend for The Big Cheesy, a one-day cooking competition seeking the best grilled cheese in New York.

The cook-off will take place Saturday at the Openhouse Gallery, which has hosted a variety of events and programs at the vast event space on Mulberry Street.

Participants include chefs from Artisanal Fromagerie and Bistro, Barnyard Cheese Shop, The Milk Truck, Alice's Tea Cup, and Bua, among others.

"A grilled cheese is a good thing no matter, but to elevate it up it's just a matter of finding really good, high-quality ingredients and finding the right balance between those ingredients," said Keith Klein, founder of The Milk Truck.

He plans to feature grilled cheese made with a combination of aged gruyere, aged cheddar and Wisconsin blue cheese, topped with balsamic glazed onions and sautéed mushrooms, all on rosemary pullman bread.

Klein added that New Yorkers have the unique perspective of being able to appreciate both home-cooked staples and more refined dishes — something that's part of his food's philosophy.

"We looked at something that was familiar that we could make better without making it unrecognizable," he said, noting that Saturday's sandwich won't be "a big, sloppy mess."

"Our basic aim is to make people happy."

Whitney Shanks, co-owner and manager of the event space since 2007, said the gallery has compiled a list of about 50 to 100 possible events to produce, and that a grilled cheese cook-off was next in line.

"It seemed like a good fit for this season," she said. "Everyone's kind of looking for random fun things to do."

The $25 entrance fee includes two beers from Sixpoint and a sample of each vendor's best. Attendees will then vote on their top grilled cheese, with the winning recipe published in the next edition of Edible Manhattan.

The Big Cheesy at Openhouse Gallery, 201 Mulberry St., noon to 6 p.m.