Visit our archive

3rd Annual Tillamook Cheese Grilled Cheese Contest


Think you make a mean grilled cheese sandwich? Ninety home cooks from around the country thought so and entered the 3rd Annual Tillamook Cheese Factory Grilled Cheese Contest. This past Saturday, April 27th, I had the honor of being one of the judges, tasked with tasting and scoring three finalists who came to Tillamook, Oregon to grill up their winning recipes.

Tillamook Grilled Cheese Contest - recipes

The three finalists were:
-Donna Beck of Bonney Lake, WA: Cheddar and Ham, Spiced Apple, Bacon Compote & Maple Butter
-Colleen Bill of Post Falls, ID: Grilled Stromboli
-Karla Pollich of Portland, OR: Spiced Turkey Cranberry Grilled Cheese

Tillamook Grilled Cheese Contest - finalists decision time

When we arrived at the Tillamook Cheese Factory, the finalists were busy prepping their stations and ingredients.

Tillamook Grilled Cheese Contest - Cooking

Throughout the competition, finalists were interviewed by Susan Palmer, Director of Retail Operations of Tillamook Cheese Factory.

Tillamook Grilled Cheese Contest - Susan interviewing Karla

Local radio personality Tommy Boye also emceed the event.

Tillamook Grilled Cheese Contest - Tommy and Colleen

There were six judges total, including Patrick Criteser, President and CEO of Tillamook  Cheese (shown in the photo below seated next to me):

Tillamook Grilled Cheese Contest - judges

As you can see from the photo below, judging was serious matter. Each of the sandwiches was absolutely DELICIOUS in its own, unique way. We were asked to judge each sandwich based on appearance, cheese flavor, amount of cheese, combination of ingredients, and overall.

Tillamook Grilled Cheese Contest - Judges -2

I was highly impressed by the unique flavor combinations each finalist created. It’s cliche, but true: the decision was tough, and all judges enjoyed each of the finalist recipes very much. In the end, it was Karla Pollich’s Spiced Turkey Cranberry Grilled Cheese sandwich that won.

3rd Annual Tillamook Cheese Grilled Cheese Contest


Karla’s winning recipe did a wonderful job of highlighting the rich Tillamook Vintage White aged cheddar cheese, the texture of the bacon and turkey, and the sweetness of the cranberry pepper jelly.

Tillamook Grilled Cheese Contest - 1st Place

Congratulations to Karla on her winning recipe! Thanks to all of the finalists for their delicious sandwiches. They all did an incredible job, and I would honestly make and serve each of these grilled cheese sandwiches in my own home.

Watch for Karla’s winning recipe to be served at the Tillamook Cheese Factory for a limited time. And if you’re itching for the recipes, I’ve invited each of the finalists to also do a guest post here on Urban Bliss Life.

Thanks so much to Tillamook Cheese for inviting me to be a judge in this year’s competition!





Food + Drink + Travel writer. Adventurer, mom, biz owner ( In constant pursuit of all that is creative & fun. Email: info (at) urbanblisslife (dot) com.

  • Susan Palmer Apr 29, 2013 Reply

    Thanks, Marlynn! Great to meet you and I’m so glad you enjoyed your time at the contest.

    • It was so great meeting you, Susan! Thank you so much for putting together such a fantastic event!

  • Name (Required)

  • Email (Required, but not published)

  • Url (Optional)

  • Comment (Required)

CommentLuv badge