Havarti, Pepper jack and Gouda, oh my! Lefty's Live Music in Des Moines hosted a grilled cheese and tomato soup cook-off on Saturday, Feb. 11, where local foodies competed with their greatest twists on this American classic. Grilled cheese enthusiasts paid just $5 to taste all the creations and then vote on their favorite team.

Team Granny Smith

bread, cheese
Connor Finholt

Led by chef Tina Anderson, Team Granny Smith took the first place prize. Her grilled cheese sandwich was made with a havarti cheese and slices of granny smith apples. Her secret? Use real butter. Anderson paired her sandwich with a tomato basil soup made from scratch. She roasts the tomatoes for four hours and adds a number of secret ingredients to give a bit of zest.  

birthday cake, cheesecake, cake
Connor Finholt

As a retired chef of 30 years, Anderson now cooks for fun. She is half Asian and half Irish and says the grill is her favorite. She has been a chef all over the country, from Hawaii to Vegas and more.  

Team Sweet Ka Pow

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Led by foodie Melissa Powell, Team Sweet Ka Pow took second place with a sweet and spicy soup and sandwich combo. Her sandwich is made on a sweet Hawaiian bread roll with smoked gouda, provolone, havarti and gruyere cheeses. The soup has a Sriracha base, giving it a little bit of a kick. it is made with San Marzano tomatoes, which are grown in Italy on volcanic soil.

tea, beer
Connor Finholt

Powell strongly believes food makes people happy. Although she isn't a chef, she does consider herself a food and cooking relaxes her. With each sample, she added a DumDum lollipop and said "don't be a DumDum and vote for me." Clearly, it worked. 

The Pepper Jills

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Foodies Zoe and Mallory are just two people who like to cook, and their food shows it. Their sandwich was a combination of gouda cheese, apple, sriracha and mango chutney. They made the recipe up special for this event.

cake, pizza
Connor Finholt

The soup is inspired by Indian cuisine. It may have a basic tomato soup base but it does have dashes of curry that add a whole new flavor. Zoe said the two basically started throwing different things into the pot until it was to their liking. 

The Winners

bun, dough, sweet, pastry, bread
Connor Finholt

Although they didn't win the competition, they did win with their homemade bread. Chef Blake and AJ were the only competitors to make their own bread, a brioche bun. Inside, a seven cheese macaroni topped with Cheez-Its laid. The recipe was made special for the competition. The soup was a creamy, slow roasted tomato bisque. 

pizza, wine, beer
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Blake has been cooking since he was 15 and is a chef at the West Des Moines Marriott. He attributes his love for food to sitting in restaurants with his parents when he was younger and wondering what was going on behind the swinging doors to the kitchen. 

World's Best Grilled Cheese

sandwich, bread
Connor Finholt

Foodie Amelia really brought her A-game. Her sandwich is made with a pepper jack cheese with bits of bacon and avocado. Inspired by her cousin's recipe, she adds Northwood Fire seasoning to her soup that gives a flavorful, and slightly spicy taste. She also claims the seasoning makes anything it is on highly addictive.

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A teacher by day, Amelia says she loves to cook. She also claims she makes the best ribeye steak around. 

Lefty's Live Music plans to hold another cook off in the summer that will have a different menu. But, if you missed this years grilled cheese cook off, there is always next year when the event will happen again next February.