I hope each week's will be just short enough to read on your subway ride or lunch break or in bed while you gram & tweet & stuff. Please leave comments or share stories of your own if you were at any of the events or memories and want to add your own.
THE CHEESE STANDS ALONE. A FOOD CART LOVE STORY.
TO: TT, MOM, DAD, MATTY, RIPLEY, MY FRIENDS, AND ALL THE PEOPLE IN THE BAY AREA FOOD SCENE & BRIEYOND!
The story will be shared in small bite chapters online and hopefully one day as a real book! For the purposes of this autobiographical recounting of the GrilledCheezGuy, my primary sources will be my brain, my friends & corworker's brains, articles & blog posts, and most importantly the all-important leather bound calendars I started carrying in 2012. The story is going to start in 2009 with the first entry into the Grilled Cheese Invitational (GCI from now on folks) world and go from there. Well, maybe a little prologue first.
PROLOGUE: BEFORE ME BECAME BRIE
As mentioned, I don't have my fun little calendars filled with journals and notes and gigs to reference for how exactly this story started. Therefore, I used the next best thing which is Facebook. I went back to 2008 to see how life was, and if there was any yet mention of cheese & grilling. The posts and pictures were all gleeful and gay and one literally said "MY LIFE IS PERFECT!" so things in 2008 from what I see and remember were good. Those are the BC years. Before Cheese. Life was simpler. I had hobbies like being a shark naturalist, white water rafting, camping, throwing dinner parties and the like. I didn't know that a call to cheesy arms would soon lead me to go from the labs to the commissary and how much of my life it would briecome.
Food and cooking have always been a part of my life. What has become my most told story of stories because once you are in the food scene and people write, talk, or tape you is this...."So how did this all start for YOU?????!?? Who was your insipiration???!" Granted I love grandma and all that but after a while it just becomes a part of the drill that you can't really change too much. "This is my grandma. There are many like it, but this one is mine.......Without my grandma, I am useless" True statement. With two working parents growing up in a small beach town of West Palm Beach, FL, the classically trained french cook & babysitter of my brother & I made sure most every meal was made from scratch. Even after school treats weren't some packaged good, they were something made in a pan or the oven. The curiosity side of me always watched on to notice the tricks and techniques she used in the kitchen. Meals truly were the place that brought the family together every night to catch up on school and stories and everything in between. That power to bring busy people together was not lost on me, but actually implemented into dinner parties and sit down meals with friend's in college. Dinner parties really did mean a college like party with drinks, drugs, and all that jazz combined with seriously fancy side dishes. Coca cola chicken friend chicken? Sure. Kingfish Fish Tacos? Yup. One of my favorite semesters involved mastering the outdoor grill pit and BBQ'ing Costco steaks & killing purple bags of Crown Royal weekly. Nevertheless, college was still a low period in culinary prowess and epicurean adventures but I made up for it with my decision of where to move to after college.
At this point my life was a combo of Florida & New Jersey. I was born extra-warm blooded in sunny FL but was lucky enough to get trained in the tri-state area attitude as well. I saw Florida as a great place to visit the family and take advantage of the beaches and fishing but that was about it. The state lacked in too many other departments to make it somewhere I wanted to try out in my 20's, despite many college friends keeping in place there. New Jersey friends were all parlaying to neighboring major cities to give it a try: Philly, NYC, Boston. I voted all those down because I didn't want to continue the trend of suffering through snow storms in my life when I had the choice not to. My move to New Jersey was not of my own doing but my father's loss of a job and career change. This was my time to shine and I wanted it shining a lot. Two other friends & I decided to go West like those before us and make a stake at California. For me, my motivating factors were the following in order or importance: Liberal lifestyle being a gay American, lots of outdoors of various types, and a place where food & the food scene was happening (also sharks as mentioned above). So we decided on San Francisco & the bay area. A place I had never visited and actually knew very little about. After a LOT of google and wikipedia I learned it met my requirements and the science company I was working for had a large division in the area in case I wanted to continue with them. And I did, for almost 8 more years before giving it all up and going full time GrilledCheezGuy. But before we get to that year, we have many more to cover in between starting at Family Night(s) and the first Bay Area Regional GCI Contest of 2009.
CHAPTER 1. FAMILY NIGHT. LAUGHING SQUIDS. COOKING WHILE DRINKING (OR VISE VERSA)