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Arts & Culture

"Cheesy" Restaurant Fundraiser Helps Feed The Hungry

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The 2nd Annual “Grilled Cheese Experience” kicks off this week at participating restaurants in Eugene and Springfield. It’s a fundraiser for FOOD for Lane County—and 18 eateries are offering their takes on the old classic sandwich.

Spoiler Alert! This story is cheesy. Very cheesy…

From the kitchen at Party Downtown, the smells of melted cheese and truffle waft through the air. Proprietors Mark Kosmicki and his wife Tiffany Norton describe their variation of a grilled cheese sandwich on their menu for the next two weeks.

Tiffany: “I’m getting my pan pretty hot and I’ve buttered some brioche that Mark made. I’m toasting the bread right now. Then I’m gonna ‘schmear’ it with a white truffle infused whipped cheese…”

Mark: “It’s a triple cream French cheese. It’s really good and we let it sit with Oregon white truffles for about four days and we also shave in a whole bunch of Oregon white truffles into it. And pureed it and we’re “schmearing” it on the bread. And then we’re gonna melt it and it’s going to be delightful.”

Reporter: “this is very important, the pronunciation of “schmear. Now you’re putting this in the oven gonna cook this for what?”

Tiffany:” Um, just of less than a minute. Just to kind of let the cheese get oozy and toast the bread up a little bit. Then we’re gonna top it with some Oregon white truffle butter that we made.”

Reporter:”Where do you get your truffles?”

Tiffany:”We get most of them from Umami Truffle Dogs. We believe in dog harvested truffles. They’re better for the world and the trees and all.”

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Credit Tiffany Eckert
Party Downtown's Tiffany Norton and Mark Kosmicki take a break in the kitchen with Dawn Marie (left) of FOOD for Lane County.

“Wow, I think it’s gonna be a hit!”

That’s Dawn Marie Woodward. She’s with FOOD For Lane County. She's coordinating the Grilled Cheese Experience.

“We chose grilled cheese because that’s just basic essentials. Bread and cheese. And for many families that’s very hard to come by sometimes. And so that’s what we want people to think of when they are there out enjoying the great meal is that there are a lot of people in our community that are not so fortunate to be able to do this. And by partaking in this, you can help somebody else.”

Just down the hall from Party Downtown is Red Wagon Creamery. Owners Emily and Stuart Phillips rented kitchen space from FOOD for Lane County during their first two years of business. Stuart says they take every chance they can to give back to this non-profit.

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Red Wagon Creamery owners Stuart and Emily Phillips show off their cheddar cheese ice cream with warm bacon jam and homemade cheese whip.

Stuart: “Obviously everyone deserves to be fed. You know not matter what your station in life, no matter what got you there, everyone deserves food. So, you know, I’m from the Mississippi delta so I know poverty and I know how government programs and programs like FOOD for Lane County can really make a difference to people. So, yea it really hits close to home on a lot of levels.”

Emily” And we have a ice cream grilled cheese sandwich.
Which is a toasted brioche bun with Tillamook Cheddar cheese ice cream, bourbon bacon jam, and it’s topped with a homemade sharp cheddar Tillamook spray cheese that we made ourselves.”

Reporter: “What are we doing here?”

Stuart: “Toasting the brioche to give it a little different consistency to sort of counter balance softness of the ice cream—so we have a little crispiness in the brioche from the toasting. Then we’ll put some ice cream, put some jam then top it with amazing, all natural, non-weird spray cheese.”

After that description, I’ve got to have a taste.

“MMMM thank you.”

Each grilled cheese sale translates to at least a dollar contributed to FOOD For Lane County Last year, the Grilled Cheese Experience raised $4,000.

For more information on participating restaurants and what they are offering during the Grilled Cheese Experience for FOOD for Lane County:

https://foodforlanecounty.org/event/2nd-annual-grilled-cheese-experience/

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