An Interview with a Grilled Cheese Chef
April 12, 2016
It’s one of the first meals you learn to cook at home by yourself. You can’t mess it up. It’s the perfect vehicle for soup-dipping. It’s still a go-to comfort food for anyone under the weather. Kids love it and moms love to serve it. The grilled cheese is certainly a repeat all-star on the busy-family-weekday dinner menu, and it’s not hard to see why. For National Grilled Cheese Day (hint: that’s today!), we sat down with, as far as we’re concerned, a grilled cheese expert: none other than grilled cheese Chef and Managing Partner, James Lancelotta of Maryland-based grilled cheese restaurant, Grilled Cheese & Co. He answered our questions with you in mind, our Kiddie Academy families, and here’s what he had to say…
Kiddie Academy (KA): What are your most popular menu items?
James Lancelotta (JL): Our most popular item is the Crabby Melt, a grilled cheese sandwich loaded with sweet claw crab meat, topped with Monterey jack cheese and grilled up on ciabatta bread. Our second most popular is the BCT, delicious layers of aged cheddar, crumbled smoked bacon & freshly diced tomatoes. Next would have to be the Smashed Meatball, Italian meatballs and marinara sauce finished with provolone and parmesan cheese!
KA: Are all of these variations still popular with the kid crowd?
JL: Kids typically enjoy them, but The Original grilled cheese, plain old grilled cheese…kids always seem to love. White bread and American cheese.
KA: Where can people find Grilled Cheese & Co.?
JL: We have four locations currently: our flagship location in Catonsville has been open for six years, Sykesville, Fed Hill and Waugh Chapel. We’re signing paperwork now to hopefully expand with additional franchises.
KA: Have you ever done toast art for kids on your grilled cheese sandwiches?
JL: We’ve played with the idea but we’re usually too busy dishing up the sandwiches as people order them. If we did do toast art more seriously, it would have to be Star Wars-related. I’m a huge Star Wars nerd!
KA: How can parents make grilled cheese fun at home?
JL: You can use different ingredients – all kids find grilled cheese to be fun – it’s gooey! Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses make it really stringy, which kids like to play with and it’s fun to eat. It’s fun for kids to play with and eat when the texture of the sandwich is different.
KA: What makes grilled cheese so approachable for kids who might be picky eaters?
JL: Because it’s nice and simple. Butter, bread and cheese. Some like the crust cut off, which is easy to do, but it’s just three simple ingredients that don’t intimidate.
KA: What’s your favorite kind of grilled cheese?
JL: My favorite is The Original!
KA: If you wanted to tell kids/families/parents one thing about grilled cheese, or National Grilled Cheese Day, what would it be?
JL: That grilled cheese is actually pretty healthy if you use all-natural ingredients. And it’s easy to make and it’s a crowd pleaser!
At the end of the day, melted cheese atop of bread is an American staple! Hide veggies in it, use different kinds of cheese, mix up the bread selection and you’re inventing your own beautiful, delicious grilled cheese creation.
Happy National Grilled Cheese Day, from your friends at Kiddie Academy!
Make sure to find the Grilled Cheese & Co. on Facebook to connect with Chef James.