We’ve always been two enthusiastic cooks (and eaters) who love recreating dishes and coming up with new flavour combinations. Nishma makes killer chai cupcakes, and I like nothing more than a chocolate chip cookie with melted cheese on top (try it before you judge me). After living together for four years, and spending the majority of our time talking about food, we decided to follow our hearts (and our stomachs) and open Grill My Cheese, in May 2013.
Having both been to the States a few times we found ourselves eating our weight in food there. In virtually every Diner we visited, we noticed they all had a take on a grilled cheese. Generally, the bread would be bleached white and the cheese processed. I mean there is a time and a place for such things (it does hit the spot after a night out in Miami), but this is not how we make a toasted cheese sandwich at home. We use bread from the bakery and good English cheddar from the fridge. Some leftover chutney, and maybe a tomato if it’s going. It got us thinking, what if we can take this concept of a ‘gourmet’ grilled cheese and transform it in to the best grilled cheese that London has to offer, would people be interested in eating it? In London, do people even eat Grilled Cheese, or are we more of a cheese on toast nation? We had no idea to be completely honest!
So we began to do the work. For us, the beauty in simplicity that is the grilled cheese sandwich is down to the quality of ingredients. We really wanted to make sure we were using the best of British produce. It began with what cheese and what bread to use? We tried out various combinations of British cheeses to get it right. Sharing photos constantly, and asking “does this have the right ‘stretch’?” “Does this have the right taste?” “Is the bread holding its crunch?” “Are you sick of cheese yet?” Eventually we decided to use a blend of three cheeses (our signature cheese blend), and decided to go for an organic sourdough as the foundation of all our sandwiches.
Now that we had that down, what about everything else to make it special? Given we were taking our inspiration from the USA, we decided to work on ideas that were based around American classics for eg BBQ and Tex-Mex, but also incorporating our British upbringing. Off we were again. I think I made five different variations of mac and cheese in two days; it’s quite surprising that I still love it so much. For us everything had to be just right. There was no point doing this if it wasn’t going to be perfect.
A lot of our friends and family got the goods of our experiments and after some great (albeit biased) feedback from them, we decided to hit the streets. It would have been rude not to, right? It took us a year from being inspired to start up Grill My Cheese, to seeing us actually trading. For us, street food is where the innovation in the food scene is happening and we thought it would be the perfect platform to showcase our sandwiches. It’s not been easy, but it’s been exciting, and so far people seem to be loving our sandwiches. So here we are, still learning, still eating and having an amazing time as we go along (as cheesy as that may sound).
Nisha and Nishma
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