VOL. 8 | NO. 15 | Saturday, April 4, 2015
In the Weeds
Humble Grilled Cheese Gets Royal Treatment From Nashville's Top Chefs
JENNIFER JUSTUS | The Ledger
If you were looking to celebrate National Whipped Cream Day, then you’ll have to wait until next year on Jan 5.
National “I Want Butterscotch Day” has also passed.
And National Frog Legs Day? It only comes around every four years to celebrate Leap Day.
But here’s the good news. Food days and even month-long celebrations happen throughout the year with one of the most worthy – buttery slices of bread holding together oozing blends of cheese – claiming its own day and month in April.
For April, it’s all hail the grilled cheese.
The Grilled Cheeserie truck, which hit the streets and helped lead the modern Nashville food truck fleet in 2010, serves elevated takes on the nostalgic classic with a special celebration each April.
Grilled Cheeserie owners Joseph Bogan (left) and Crystal De Luna-Bogan watch as Chef Sean Brock of Nashville’s Husk restaurant prepares his featured grilled cheese sandwich.
“We always do something each year,” says Joseph Bogan, who runs the truck along with his wife and Le Cordon Bleu trained chef Crystal De Luna-Bogan. “We make kind of a big deal out of it.”
But as the Bogans know, the best celebrations don’t just serve the community, they involve the community and celebrate the creativity among us.
So for this year’s Grilled Cheese Month, they invited four of Nashville best chefs at brick-and-mortar restaurants to create a grilled cheese that will be featured from the truck throughout the month.
The participants include Josh Habiger of Pinewood Social, Deb Paquette of Etch, Phil Krajeck of Rolf and Daughters and Sean Brock of Husk.
“What we do is more chef driven,” Joseph adds. “Taking something simple to the next level … So, we figured incorporating these chefs is kind of the perfect marriage.”
The Bogans asked the chefs to consider the grilled cheese as a blank canvas for creating a grilled cheese that personifies each of their styles.
They then visited each chef in their restaurant kitchens to make the grilled cheeses with them and to document the process.
“We used the [photo] shoot as an opportunity to capture the melt and also for me to take notes on exactly how they wanted things,” Crystal says.
“I brought the ingredients they asked me to bring and did preparations to their specifications, but this was an opportunity for them to be like ‘Oh, do it more this way or that way.’”
Each of the chefs made the grilled cheese their own with the ingredients and techniques that help express their varied styles and personalities.
Habiger, formerly of The Catbird Seat, for example, took a meticulous approach, placing ingredients like shaved apple over Fernet jam, while Brock of Husk piled on mounds of country ham.
“I wanted it to be a true representation of Husk and all our theories and principles,’’ Brock says. “It’s my favorite Southern ingredients.’’
Then Brock bit into his sandwich, as Joseph recalls, with its ham, buttermilk cheddar, pickled green tomatoes and Duke’s mayonnaise, and proclaimed with a laugh, “It tastes like my life.”
Keep up with the Grilled Cheeserie’s whereabouts throughout Grilled Cheese Month by visiting them at thegrilledchesserietruck.com or on social media: @GrlldCheeserie on Twitter and @thegrilledcheeserie on Instagram
The schedule of #ChefDayGrilledCheese, the hash tag for the featured melts each week, will take place as follows:
Josh Habiger, Pinewood Social
Sharp Vermont Cheddar, The Hamery Country Ham, Shaved Apple, Fernet Jam on Dozen’s Pain de Mie
Deb Paquette, Etch
Smoked Gouda, Aged Gouda, Confit Mushrooms, Pickled Apple, Tarragon, Horseradish and Parmesan Mayo on Marble Rye
Phil Krajeck, Rolf and Daughters
Fontina, ‘Nduja, Charred Scallion Relish on Bobby John Henry’s “White” Bread griddles with Duke’s Mayo and served with a Lime Wedge
Sean Brock, Husk
A blend of TN Buttermilk Cheddar and English Farmstead’s Buttercup Cheese, Benton’s Country Ham Bits, Pickled Green Tomatoes, Smoked Paprika and Duke’s Mayo on Buttermilk Brioche griddled in Country Ham Fat.
In the food business, being “in the weeds” means being super busy. And that’s also how we would describe Nashville’s booming restaurant scene. In this column, Jennifer Justus, journalist, author and food culture writer, keeps us up to date on food, dining out and trends with bi-weekly reports from the table.