Skip to content

VIDEO: Armstrong grills up mouth-watering cheese challenge

Big Cheese Professional Grilled Cheese Challenge underway until April 2

Armstrong’s newest restaurant has taken the cheese.

The Big Cheese Professional Grilled Cheese Challenge is being served until April 2 at six participating venues.

The public has the chance to try each of the cheesy creations and vote for their favourite. The People’s Choice winner will be announced at the Big Cheese event at Hassen Arena Saturday, April 6.

Try PV BLVD Coffee’s Cheesy Maple Dream, the Wild Oak Café’s The Bramble, the Legion’s Veteran Melt, The Village Cheese Co.’s Farmer’s Best, Farmstrong Cider’s Toasty Beef and Cheese (open March 15 for the season) and/or The Clove’s Chorizo Grilled Cheese (open Saturday, March 9).

A panel of esteemed judges had the chance to sample all of the above March 6 and determined their favourites.

Their top three choices are:

• 1st - The Clove

• 2nd - Farmstrong Cider Co.

• 3rd – The Village Cheese

“They were all very close,” said Carol Hill-Lonergan, Armstrong Spallumcheen Chamber of Commerce administrative assistant.

But don’t take the judges’ word for it, try them yourselves, as each sandwich is filled with flavour and unique ingredients.

Wild Oak took the People’s Choice last year and is looking to keep its title.

“Our main feature in this grilled cheese is our blackberry jalapeno jelly,” said owner, Elizabeth Reimer, of the Country Bakery sourdough sandwich including red onion, peppered bacon, brie and Village Cheese aged cheddar and mozzarella.

PV BLVD owner Kristy McLennan has gone full cheese, donning a pair of cheese wedge earrings and a matching hair clip.

“I made brioche dough like a cinnamon bun style with the jalapeno and roasted strawberries and then sliced it, baked it and stuffed it with cheese and panini pressed it,” said McLennan of the unique offering featuring Village Cheese maple cheddar, “as well as their mozzarella for the stretchiness.”

Veterans will melt over the Armstrong Legion’s creation by chef Ken Walkden.

“Italian white bread with a Canada Dairy Monterey jack and Swiss cheese on both sides with a house-smoked pull pork with an onion apple caramelization on top of that with another layer of cheese, enjoy.”

The Village Cheese managed to source all local ingredients including BC Brine onions from Falkland, Wildcraft Mustard (created by a mother from Spallumcheen and daughter from 100 Mile), old-fashioned ham, on multigrain bread along with their own aged cheddar, mozzarella and Farmer’s Cheese.

General manager Kelly Barird introduced the sandwich to the judges, which included former Village Cheese employee David Beaudoin (a cheese expert). Thrilled to see the hyper-local focus of the sandwich and the store, Beaudoin is impressed with what the new owners of the cheese factory are doing since the store opened in 1999. Beaudoin started working at The Village Cheese 19 years ago, where he introduced the community to Squeaky Cheese. He left about 10 years ago and in 2005 became the Canadian Cheese Ambassador.

Farmstrong won the Judge’s Choice last year and equally impressed taste buds this year.

“Hope you’re hungry,” said chef Colton Syrota. “We are a cattle farm so I really wanted to focus on beef this year. I was processing the cows for the start of the year so I had everything that was fresh and delicious ready to go.”

Along with bone-marrow-infused butter, the sandwich features Village Cheese five-year-aged cheddar and mozzarella, and another tasty ingredient.

“They were bottling hop cider this morning so I figured I’d pickle some onions in the hop cider before it was added to cans, while it was at its best.”

Armstrong’s newest restaurant, The Clove, opens March 9 and features a grilled cheese on its menu with Portuguese chorizo, roasted red peppers, caramelized onions, garlic aioli, garlic butter on sourdough loaf with Village Cheese Monterey jack and feta.

Chef Georgia McLean and owner Autumn White are excited to open the new restaurant in the old Blue Cafe/’Blue’ hotel with hours of Thursday to Monday 12 to 9 p.m.

READ MORE: Say cheese in Armstrong

READ MORE: What’s happening around the North Okanagan

Patti Noonan, Armstrong Spallumcheen Chamber of Commerce executive director, strings along the Legion’s Veterans Melt. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)

Jennifer Smith

About the Author: Jennifer Smith

20-year-Morning Star veteran
Read more