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Spaghetti, deviled eggs and peanut butter: 3 crazy grilled cheeses to try this fall

Don't knock it 'til you try it.
Chris Grove
/ Source: TODAY

Chef Kim Wilcox has run her Knoxville restaurant for a full decade but she never started her career intending to make grilled cheese sandwiches and ice cream for a living. Wilcox previously worked in television until one day, she realized she wasn’t happy.

"I've always — my whole life — loved to cook," she explained to TODAY Food, adding that it was her family’s love language. "And so I would say to myself, 'Why am I not doing something that, like, I really feel in my soul?'"

She started her catering business soon thereafter and eventually bought a café in West Knoxville. Wilcox initially started with simple sandwiches and soups but her monthly grilled-cheese specials quickly became the talk of the neighborhood.

Kim Wilcox poses with grilled cheese in her Knoxville restaurant
Wilcox poses in her Knoxville, Tennessee restaurant.Courtesy of Chris Grove

"It was so popular that when we tried to take them away people just begged us to bring them back," she laughed. "So that's kind of how it came to be."

Of course, she kept track of each of her monthly specials that her customers couldn't get enough of and now, after a decade of running the It’s All So Yummy Café, Wilcox has published her own cookbook: "The Great Book of Grilled Cheese."

She kindly agreed to share three of her most out-there recipes with us.

Spaghetti Grilled Cheese

Spaghetti Grilled Cheese

Kim Wilcox, It's All So Yummy Cafe

Arguably Wilcox's most outlandish recipe, her spaghetti grilled cheese has quite the backstory and it all started with the rapper Eminem.

She was on her way home from a music festival in Atlanta, Georgia, rapping along to his hit "Lose Yourself," from the 2002 film "8 Mile."

"His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy / There's vomit on his sweater already, mom's spaghetti," the song goes.

That's when it came to Wilcox: a spaghetti grilled cheese.

Peanut Butter and Cheddar Grilled Cheese

Peanut Butter and Cheddar Grilled Cheese

Kim Wilcox, It's All So Yummy Cafe

"It's so weird but it's so good," Wilcox laughed about her peanut butter and jelly grilled cheese. "It is so good because you get the creaminess and a little bit of sweetness from the peanut butter and that cheddar, just has that little bit of a sharpness to it.

"That kind of breaks up all that, you know the sweet peanut butter and it's just amazing."

Deviled Egg and Bacon Grilled Cheese

Deviled Egg and Bacon Grilled Cheese

Kim Wilcox, It's All So Yummy Cafe

This reporter's personal favorite, Wilcox's deviled eggs sandwich came about because she realized most people "don't on a regular basis make deviled eggs at home."

"They kind of save them for a potluck or holiday, so we started selling them in the cafe," she explained. "And it was so popular that I decided one day to try to figure out some sort of grilled cheese that we could do that would incorporate this ingredient that we are had."

She envisioned a "breakfasty" sandwich and decided to just cut them up and add a few key ingredients — like their sweet heat seasoning to give it a little kick.

"It's a great combination of sweet and spicy, and it really kind of just says the whole thing off, is very, very popular," she said.

As more people quit their jobs in search of happiness this pandemic, Wilcox says she hopes people can learn from her experience.

"At some point I realized this is not what I want to do for the rest of my life," she said. " And I'm not getting any younger. And I would tell my kids all the time, 'I don't care what you do with your life as long as you're happy doing it, you know?'"

When she kept reading articles about people leaving behind their corporate jobs for gigs that made them happy — even though it might mean giving up bigger paychecks or benefits — she took it as a sign.

"I would think I was getting messages and I decided to just take a leap of faith," she said. "You know, it was scary — you have to adjust the way that you live a little bit — but it's been the most fulfilling, exciting, fun thing that I've ever done. I mean it's what I love, love, love to do. And that's really important."