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Memphis Grilled Cheese Fest at the Hi-Tone

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Hi-Tone owner Brian "Skinny" McCabe is pleased with the radio commercials for his second annual Memphis Grilled Cheese Festival. They're modeled after vintage 1-900 ads with a breathy voice, "Hot, melted cheeses are waiting for you." They make him laugh. But if you ask McCabe about the inaugural festival, he'll tell you flat out, it was anything but a fantasy.

"It was a nightmare," he says, remembering how all of his plans fell apart. Only half of the teams that signed up showed up to compete. Volunteers were in short supply, and so were the food trucks. There simply weren't enough vendors to supply all the people who showed up hungry for grilled cheese. "For five hours, there was a single-file line for the bar going out the door," McCabe says, recalling countless runs to Kroger to stock up on bread, cheese, and butter, olive oil, or Miracle Whip.

Grilled Cheese Festival
  • Grilled Cheese Festival
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"Everybody went above and beyond," McCabe says. "And at the end of the day, we made $7,000 for ALIVE Memphis Rescue [AMR], which is something I really believe in." This year's festival will also benefit AMR, a foster-based rescue program for homeless animals.

McCabe thinks he's got the kinks worked out. A dozen teams are scheduled to compete in categories ranging from cheesiest to most ridiculous. There will be a kids area and live music in the bar from the Sheiks, the Cassette Set, and Faux Killas.

So, do you like cheese? Do you like it hot? This Sunday, grill chefs will be waiting.

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