Benchmark Resorts & Hotels and Personal Luxury Resorts & Hotels Celebrate “National Grilled Cheese Month”

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Eleven Chefs Bring a Classic American Comfort Food to New Heights

It’s the classic comfort food, a childhood staple, and an American culinary icon. It appears on tables from coast to coast, bubbling with cheesy goodness between two slices of white toast, often paired with a smoky portion of ham or bacon and accompanied by a hot cup of tomato soup. In April, we celebrate this American classic with National Grilled Cheese Month, as chefs from Benchmark Resorts & Hotels® and Personal Luxury Resorts & Hotels® bring the much-loved sandwich to new levels of sophistication, taste and variety.

These superb sandwiches reflect the distinguished destinations and singular style of eleven luxury hotels and resorts across the country. Fresh local ingredients, artisanal cheeses and breads from Brioche and Cuban Bread to Pretzel Rolls and Sourdough elevate each sandwich from a familiar comfort food to a culinary experience. Sweet and savory jams of figs, apricot, strawberries and marmalade add sweetness and contrast. Traditional ham and bacon are upgraded with prosciutto, smoked ribs, pork and even a rich duck mousse. For those who want more surf than turf in their Grilled Cheese Sandwich, there is a luscious lobster version.

Several chefs added soup, upgrading the traditional tomato with vodka or bringing a creamy butternut soup into the mix.    

How the Big Cheese Was Born
Although the French came up with the fabled Croque Monsieur at the turn of the 20th century, America’s Grilled Cheese Sandwich had a less lavish beginning as an open faced sandwich with melted shredded cheese on top. In the 1920s, the invention of both the bread slicer and Kraft processed cheese launched an inexpensive, nutritious and filling sandwich that became popular during The Great Depression and World War II. Another slice of bread was added and with the end of rationing and a post-war economic boom, meats such as ham and bacon.

Preparation methods range from the sublime – a Panini Maker – to the ridiculous – think Johnny Depp in the 1993 film Benny & Joon, cooking grilled cheese sandwiches with a clothes iron.

Benchmark chefs employ a variety of tools to prepare these sophisticated sandwiches - grills, skillets, toasters and ovens. Now that the Grilled Cheese Sandwich is all grown up, guests enjoy them after a round of golf, a meeting or a day outdoors. They go well with a glass of wine, a craft beer or for the truly nostalgic – a glass of milk!

Celebrate National Grilled Cheese Month with these great new recipes:

Smoked Touched French Toast Panini Grilled Cheese
Peppered Vodka Cream of Tomato Soup Gratin

Chef John Billings CEC
Eaglewood Resort & Spa, Itasca (Chicago), IL
At Chicagoland’s Englewood Resort & Spa, this cosmopolitan Soup n’ Sandwich combines French flair, Italian bread and Russian vodka.
For the recipe and photo, please visit

Farm House Cheddar, Caramelized Onions
Bacon Jam Grilled Cheese with House Cut Fries

Chef CJ Chambers
The Heldrich Hotel, New Brunswick, NJ
At Christopher’s Restaurant, this hearty sandwich of cheese, short ribs and fig jam is a hit at The Heldrich Hotel.
For the recipe and photo, please visit

Fontina and Monterey Jack Grilled Cheese Panini with Strawberry & Basil
On a Pretzel Roll. Serve with Roasted Tomato and Shallot Soup

Executive Chef Kirsten Ponza
Chaminade Resort & Spa, Santa Cruz, CA
California’s native Monterey Jack Cheese blends with Italian Fontina and a luscious soup of tomato and shallots.
For the recipe and photo, please visit

Manchego Cheese, Local Harvest Arugula, Figs Marmalade
On Cuban Bread

Chef Guido Estremera
Costa d’ Este Beach Resort, Vero Beach, FL
Owner Gloria Estefan’s Cuban roots are sweetly evident in a rich sandwich from this elegant resort on Florida’s Treasure Coast.
For the recipe and photo, please visit

Smoked Pork Meltdown on Chattanooga Sourdough

Chef Adam Roe
The Chattanoogan Hotel, Chattanooga, TN
There’s a new meaning to the word “meltdown” at The Chattanoogan, with a Southern-style barbecue grilled cheese.
For the recipe and photo, please visit

Parmesan-Crusted Five Cheese on Sour Dough

Chef Lonny Huot
Villas of Grand Cypress, Orlando, FL
Five fabulous cheeses add up to one Grand Sandwich at Orlando’s famed golf resort, the Villas at Grand Cypress.
For the recipe and photo, please visit

Prosciutto and Fontina Grilled Cheese
With Tomato Jam & Yukon Chips

Rick Deyo Sous Chef
Barking Frog Restaurant, Willows Lodge, Woodinville, WA
A zesty tomato jam brings out the best in the smoky Prosciutto and Fontina Cheese from Washington Wine Country’s Barking Frog restaurant at Willows Lodge.
For the recipe and photo, please visit

Country Ham, Sharp Cheddar, WV Golden Apple on Sourdough Bread

Chef Tim White
Stonewall Resort, Roanoke WV
West Virginia’s legendary country ham and local apples bring out cheddar’s best at this lakeside resort within Stonewall Resort State Park.
For the recipe and photo, please visit

Lucy Lobster Grilled Cheese with Butternut Squash Soup

Chef Victor Scargle
Bardessono, Yountville, Napa Valley, CA
Perfectly poached lobster graces this delicious grilled cheese from Lucy’s Restaurant at the Bardessono Inn in California’s lush Napa Valley.
For the recipe and photo, please visit

Sweet Breakfast Grilled Cheese

Chef Timothy A. Ralphs
Cheyenne Mountain Resort and Country Club, Colorado Springs, CO
Nutella, strawberry jam and brie complement stunning views of Cheyenne Mountain for a savory start to the day at Colorado Springs’ Cheyenne Mountain Resort.

For the recipe and photo, please visit

Truffle Brie & Black Forest Ham Sandwich, Kettle Ribbon Chips
Port Poached Figs

Chef Ender Oktayuren
World of Whirlpool, Chicago, IL
America’s “Second City” is First in culinary excellence. From the kitchens of the brand that defines how America cooks ~ Whirlpool, KitchenAid and so much more!

For the recipe and photo, please visit

About Personal Luxury Resorts & Hotels
Personal Luxury Resorts & Hotels® includes unique hand-picked properties in spectacular U.S. destinations coast to coast. Each hotel and resort delivers personal luxury in a spirit true to its own distinctive locale, yet in keeping with the collection’s shared mission. They represent a select portfolio of Benchmark Hospitality International®, which has been a leading US-based hospitality management company for over 30 years. Personal Luxury Resorts & Hotels is the preferred choice of guests who yearn for transformation over accommodation, customization over conformity, and inspiration over predictability. With Personal Luxury Resorts & Hotels, luxury is always personal.

About Benchmark Resorts & Hotels®
Benchmark Resorts & Hotels® represents the finest in lodging, dining, recreational and meeting accommodations. Many are certified by the International Association of Conference Centers, the leading professional organization governing the multi-billion dollar conference center industry on five continents, and many have also been recognized with the coveted Benchmark Conference Centers® certification of meeting excellence. Benchmark Resorts & Hotels deliver highly specialized service that anticipates guests’ needs and ensures a hospitality experience unsurpassed and long remembered.

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Ken Ellens

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