April is National Grilled Cheese Month, and a bread bakery known for its extraordinary grilled cheese recipes is giving customers a unique way to celebrate the sandwich this month.

At its bakery-cafe in Los Angeles, La Brea Bakery is selling a make-at-home grilled cheese kit. The $12 kit includes thick cut white table bread, Monterey jack cheese, cheddar cheese, fontina cheese, butter and tomato soup.

The kits are available at La Brea Bakery Café or by ordering through a delivery service on the La Brea Bakery Café website.

La Brea Bakery DVP and Executive Chef Henk Drakulich discussed with us the importance of bread in the grilled cheese sandwich and how you can make your sandwiches stand out with the right pairings.

We know that bread can make a huge difference in the overall quality of a sandwich. How does that specifically apply to grilled cheese sandwiches?

While many consumers think the cheese should be the star of the show in their grilled cheese sandwich, the bread actually plays a huge role both in flavor and texture/composition of the sandwich. In fact, I would go as far as saying that the bread is more important than the cheese.  For a great grilled cheese sandwich, the benchmark is the color and flavor of the crust of the bread.  Ideally, you want bread that is going to activate your palette, highlight the existing flavors of the cheese, and one that has a crisp consistency. As far as texture goes, using day-old bread that’s lost the soft, doughy feeling will ensure it’ll toast evenly, melting the cheese and creating a strong foundation for the sandwich.

What types of bread work well with this type of sandwich?

The type of bread can really be a matter of personal preference, but a classic pairing for grilled cheese is a sourdough such as La Brea Bakery’s Sourdough Loaf or Sourdough Baguette since it has a subtle flavor that’s instantly recognizable but won’t overpower the cheese. It also has a crisp yet chewy crust that adds a surprising crunch to balance out the gooiness of the melted cheese, and the innate tanginess of the sourdough creates an opportunity to get creative incorporating other ingredients into the sandwich like caramelized onions or avocado. 

What is your personal favorite take on the grilled cheese sandwich?

I really love having some fun when I make a grilled cheese sandwich and experimenting by adding in unexpected flavors. One combo that I’m excited about that the La Brea Bakery café is serving up for customers during the month of April is The Cowboy, which has Short rib, yellow cheddar, caramelized onions, and garlic mustard spread on our Country Wheat. Including meat in a grilled cheese can change the core of the sandwich for the better – it adds protein and emphasizes a nice smoky, savory flavor that goes well with the sharpness of the cheddar. Add in the sweetness of roasted garlic and subtle bite of Dijon mustard and you really start to take a grilled cheese sandwich to the next level. Just like with everything else that I cook, I try to build levels of flavor that synergize into a great finished dish.