I was invited to participate in the Canola Eat Well #CanolaConnect Interactive Culinary Workshop: The Great Grilled Cheese Challenge. I grew up using Canola oil and eating grilled cheese so I was really excited about this event!
The evening began with some pretty spectacular cheese and charcuterie supplied by the cheese boutique paired with Traynor Vineyard wines. What better way to mingle with fellow foodies then with great wine and cheese?! The setting was the beautiful Luxe Appliance Studio in Downtown Toronto. This place has the perfect setup for a cooking competition as there’s tons of cooking space and top of the line appliances.
The first part of the evening was spent learning all about Canola Farming from a Canola Farmer. She spoke about the process of farming the seeds and we were then given a demo of how the oil is extracted. It was really cool to see the process and try it out for ourselves. This process is called the “Canola Crush”.
Next, Chef Afrim Pristine showed us his favourite grilled cheese recipe, Beef Brisket And Boerenkaas Gouda Grilled Cheese. Here is the recipe so you can try it out for yourself. He brushed Canola oil on the outside of the bread and it gave the grilled cheese an absolutely perfect golden crust. Chef Afrim called it a perfect “bruciato”.
I asked Chef Afrim why he uses Canola Oil over other types of cooking oils, “I love using canola oil for cooking, because of the high smoke point and neutral flavor. Canola is light, delicate and healthy, it’s the perfect fat to cook with.”
Now, it was time for the competition. We were all paired off and then tasked with making our own grilled cheese sandwich using amazing ingredients from The Cheese Boutique. Any combination of ingredients would have been amazing given the high quality selection Chef Afrim brought for us to use. My game plan was to make a Cubano with a twist.
Everyone was super competitive so by the time I got to the ingredients, there was only slim pickings left. This did work to our advantage since there were classic ingredients left that happened to work well with my plan. I grabbed cheddar, roast beef, spicy pulled pork, poblano peppers and mustard. We used canola oil brushed on the outside of our white sourdough bread. I love the perfect golden colour we got on the outside of our sandwiches thanks to the Canola Oil. We all had 30 minutes to make three sandwiches for the judges to try.
The judging panel consisted of Chef Afrim Pristine of The Cheese Boutique, Chef Matt Basile of Lisa Marie restaurant and Kevin Durkee of Cheesewerks. Basically, these guys know cheese so I was a bit nervous about the judging process. When Joey Salmingo, the host of the evening, announced that we had won, I was completely shocked! I had tried our sandwich to make sure it was perfect and the combination was really delicious!
There was an amazing group of foodies and home cooks at the event and seeing their creations had my confidence take a nose dive. I won a generous basket from the Cheese Boutique and grilled cheese bragging rights!
Afterwards, we all sat down to some stellar tomato soup, made by Chef Afrim himself, along with a selection of grilled cheese sandwiches made by all of my fellow competitors. It must have been a hard decision because I tried a few of my competitors sandwiches and they were so awesome!
Samuel Adams beer paired nicely with our meal, a perfect pallet cleanser after taste testing the decadent grilled cheese sandwiches.
I recommend you choose Canola Oil for your cooking needs because not only is it a really easy oil to cook with, it is also neutral in flavour, so you never have to worry about unwanted flavours in the food that you’re cooking. Check out that perfect golden colour on all of those grilled cheeses, too!
It was a wonderful evening with delicious food and wonderful friends. I hope we can do it again (I am a sucker for cooking competitions 😉 ! All of the lovely photos were provided by Jeffrey Chan Photography courtesy of Canola Eat Well.
*The above post was created as part of a paid opportunity, however, and as always, all opinions are my own.
Growing up in my Italian family, sandwiches were our go-to lunch on the weekends. They are quick and hearty and the options