The tentative truce between Nancy Silverton and Ruth Reichl over who makes the best grilled cheese sandwich unraveled this weekend and has morphed into the first annual Grilled Cheese Shoot-Out,(GCSO) a benefit open to the public this coming week..
The GCSO will be held Monday and Tuesday from noon to 3 p.m. on the Melrose Avenue sidewalk in front of Mozza’s Chi Spacca. All proceeds of the competition will go for the funeral expenses of Pattie Porter, the mother of Hayley Porter, an Osteria Mozza line cook. The sandwiches - with either a glass or lemonade or a cookie - are expected to be $12.
Silverton fled to Mexico early Saturday morning, but will participate in Tuesday’s event. Reichl will not be on hand for either GCSO. The storied duo’s most iconic versions of the grilled cheese sandwich will be prepared by Osteria Mozza executive chef Elizabeth “Go Go” Hongian and garde manger of the Mozzarella Bar, Anna “North Tower” Nguyen.
Go Go and North Tower said Ruth’s version - called in the contest "The Ruthie" - will be made by smearing the outside of the bread with mayonnaise – and a little grated cheese – rather than the traditional butter. In addition, the filling will be cheddar and bacon and - with a decidedly non Ruth touch - pickled jalapenos..
"The Nancy" will be the classic; bread, Gruyere, mustard and butter. However, by Sunday morning, rumors were running rampart that Nancy’s sandwich - with a supplemental - would deploy Rodolphe Le Meunier Beurre de Barrate, the butter often considered the best available in America.
“Yes, we took advantage of the spat between two beloved giants to help out a fellow cook in her darkest hour,” said North Tower Nguyen during a break on a typically busy Saturday night at the Mozza Corner. “Cooks, like Hayley, they don’t work for money. They work for the love of cooking. So, hopefully, the GCSO will raise enough money for her not to have to work for money and be able to take some time off and be with her family to grieve.”
Hongian, a Jewish Korean Armenian, used a more direct approach to raise funds.
"How much money do you have in your wallet?" she asked a man who walked into the Osteria kitchen.
"I have a fifty dollar bill.."
"Give it to me."
Pattie Porter, 53, a special education teacher, passed away at her home Saturday.after a cancer attack. A Go Fund Me account has been set up for her by Osteria Mozza chef Nicolas "Never Tardy" Rodriguez. Here's the hyperlink - https://www.gofundme.com/mozza-helps-hayley
It was just Friday evening that Reichl was the keynote speaker for an event at the Harold Lloyd estate in Beverly Hills honoring Silverton for her work with the No Kid Hungry campaign. (More than $300,000 was raised to help feed children across the nation.). Reichl spoke with great admiration of Silverton, ending her speech with question she asks herself when confronted with charity requests; “What would Nancy do?”
Reichl was even staying at Silverton’s Windsor Square home, but apparently between the Friday night event and Reichl’s abrupt 5 a.m. Saturday morning departure, something went terrible awry.
Sources, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Silverton’s longtime boyfriend, crime reporter – and well-known instigator - Michael Krikorian, may have exasperated the tenuous peace between the two American food legends by, well, by instigating something.
Reached by telephone, Reichl said the competition was "rigged".
"I think this is a rigged contest!," she said. "I'm not there to defend my sandwich!"