Stephanie Bright’s recipe The Low Country took home the silver prize in The 2012 Grilled Cheese Academy Recipe Contest. Below Stephanie shares what went on behind the scenes and gives us some of her best recipe-creating tips.
Q: What golden rules do you follow when capturing a recipe with your camera?
Stephanie: First, I read the rules thoroughly! Some contests require you to show the qualifying product in the photo, so make sure you have read the rules, in detail. Also, I always try to take my photos in natural sunlight/daylight so that I do not have to use the flash. For any given recipe submission, I will take five or six pictures from every angle. For this particular recipe, I took pictures of the sandwich whole (from all angles) as well as the sandwich sliced in half (from all angles). Finally, I like to use a neutral plate in my photos to let the recipe speak for itself. I understand that a colorful place setting can be very eye catching, but I prefer simplicity to a busy/patterned plate that competes with my recipe. If I want to use a spot of color, I use an interesting charger, place mat or tablecloth.
Q: When brainstorming a new recipe like The Low Country, did you draw inspiration from what was in your kitchen or did you imagine the combination of flavors first?
Stephanie: For this recipe, I did some major homework. I literally read through every recipe on the Academy’s website, taking note of titles, cheeses used and preparation. The first thing I noticed, as I’m sure anyone would, is that the titles of the sandwiches are so unique. I wanted my recipe to reflect something with which I was familiar and also have a great title; I’m from the South and I can definitely put together a Low Country boil. So, in this instance, my title came first and was the inspiration for my ingredients.
Q: What constitutes a great grilled cheese recipe in your mind?
Stephanie: Before I came across the Grilled Cheese Academy’s website, I thought that grilled cheeses were a toasted sandwich with cheese and ham (or bacon, if I had extra time). The sandwiches featured on the Academy’s website are not a simple accompaniment to a bowl of soup; these sandwiches are the main event at any meal. My mindset about a great grilled cheese has changed because there are so many great cheeses, and the pairings of these cheeses with different breads and meats are endless.
Q: What is your favorite way to celebrate National Grilled Cheese Month?
Stephanie: I’ll be celebrating National Grilled Cheese Month this year by enjoying some of the wonderful recipes available from the Grilled Cheese Academy. First on my list this year? Trying The Bewitching…finally! I have wanted to try it for some time, and National Grilled Cheese Month is the perfect time to do it.
Do you think your recipe has what it takes to be a champion grilled cheese sandwich? Now is your chance to test your creation! Visit GrilledCheeseAcademy.com to submit your recipe for The 2013 Grilled Cheese Academy Recipe Showdown.
See more grilled cheese tips from last year’s contest winner Ally D’Antoni Phillips here!