Go Idaho Visits Meltz Extreme

Joe McCarthy knew early on that he wanted to be a chef. He went to culinary school at the New England Culinary Institute in Vermont. He worked in New York and Chicago at high-end restaurants; he cooked for special events and celebrity chefs, and even at the James Beard House. After a decade of traveling the country cooking for a professional racing series, he knew he needed to make a change that would allow him more time with his family.

“I was watching a food show. I saw a guy in southern California with a grilled cheese truck. He was one of the first to do grilled cheese as a concept. I thought to myself, that’s pretty interesting. Everybody loves grilled cheese. I betcha I could do that, and I betcha I could do it better,” says McCarthy. And for the last four and a half years he’s done just that.

Grilled cheese is just about as classic as a sandwich can get, but at Meltz Extreme Grilled Cheese in Coeur D’Alene McCarthy has managed to create some wildly creative flavors, without diminishing the sandwich’s approachability. With creations like the Turducken and the Frito Pie, McCarthy transforms the iconic meal.

In the Pacific Northwest, Meltz is one of, if not the only brick-and-mortar grilled cheese concept restaurant. McCarthy notes that others have certainly tried, but they haven’t lasted long. It’s a pattern that points to the surprising complexity of the grilled cheese.

“There really is a science behind a good grilled cheese. You have to have the right temperature. All fats have a different smoking point, and you have to understand the science behind that,” says McCarthy. Plus, it’s not an easy sandwich to get right each time when you’re doing it hundreds of times, and doing it quickly. So McCarthy has established a system that allows the Meltz crew to succeed where others have failed.

Enter: The Schmear.

“You’re really dealing with this outside layering—what we call the schmear—schmear is the outside flavoring that most people consider just butter or mayo. Ours is not, ours has over 14 ingredients in the schmear alone,” he says. McCarthy has perfected not just the ingredients in his schmear, but the application itself has a specific method (No butter rollers or brushes here.). And that’s just the beginning.

“Another thing that makes ours different is that we have those outside crispies, that’s called Frico, and we deliver a little bit of that fried cheese on every sandwich, and people really love that,” he says.

People really love all of it, actually. Grilled cheese is a basic staple of the American diet, but at Meltz it’s more than that. In the right hands, like McCarthy’s, it delivers some unforgettable flavors far beyond the traditional.

Check out the whole article at: https://goidaho.com/meltz-extreme-grilled-cheese/

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