Cafe Society

No whey! Hacienda Maize, chef Michael Long and Marczyk Fine Foods were the cheese knees at Saturday's grilled cheese battle

Seventeen chefs -- amateur and professional -- convened at Steve's Snappin' Dogs on Saturday afternoon for the hot dog joint's inaugural grilled cheese competition, a spirited face off that ended with nothing but de...brie, thanks to the cheese-chomping crowds who ate everything but the rind. A panel of judges, including yours truly, judged the battle, as did the public, and there was mutual agreement on both sides of the bread: First place went to Darci Harat, founder of Hacienda Maize, whose grilled cheese sandwich was heaped with caramelized bacon, Gouda, sharp cheddar and Camembert and smeared with Harat's bracing jalepeño jelly. Second place was awarded to Micheal Long, whose sandwich trumpeted two fennel-scented, sourdough waffle halves stuffed with fontina and apples; and third place went to Chauncey Hutton, the deli manager of Marczyk's. His sandwich, paved with muenster, Vermont cheddar and brown mustard, also included fire-roasted tomatoes. If you're feeling nostalgic for a grilled cheese, the photos on the following pages, all of which were the sandwiches we judged, should inspire you to make your own.

See also: Exclusive: Steve's Snappin' Dogs will join the new crop of restaurants opening at DIA