It's #SandwichWeek! Here's How To Hack Your Sandwich Game Like a Chef
The Tenets of Sandwichdom, from the experts.
September 25, 2017 ● 4 min read
By Richie Nakano | Image melazurg via iStock
What's Sandwich Week, you ask?
IT'S SANDWICH WEEK. We made it up. Sandwiches deserve it, damn it.
So what makes for a good sandwich? How does one assemble something worthy of a New York City deli? What was is that made all those tuna salad sandwiches so terrible growing up? Let's ask people who feed other people for a living.
HASHTAG CHEF STEPS
Christian Ciscle | Wing Wings in SF, ham sandwich enthusiast but chicken man by trade, who accused me of trying to trigger him by asking this question.
The Rules, from bottom to top: bread—mustard—meat—cheese—lettuce—tomato—onion—salt and pepper—mayo—bread.
Liza Shaw | Former Chef-Owner of sandwich heaven Merigan Sub Shop, lady of leisure, chef at large, on hiatus, killing it at life
1. Proper bread to filling ratio.
2. NO DUTCH CRUNCH, not ever.
3. Both pieces of bread wet with something.
4. Meat next to cheese.
5. Bread should be soft enough so ingredients don’t spooge out the other end when you take a bite.
6. Dress your greens.
7. Every ingredient seasoned.
8. Practice restraint.
A BIT OF POETIC IMAGERY
Trevor Kunk | Consulting chef in NYC, and sandwich assembly savant
Motto: "Fun stuff on top, you need pickles to really party, and if the bread is soft, you've got to get some crunchies in the middle."
Every sandwich has a "main" ingredient that is more often than not, a protein. Let's call the protein Kendrick.
From there you add items to complement Kendrick. Starting from the very bottom, there is the bread foundation. This is very important. Never ever add something to the foundation that could put him in jeopardy. Would you throw shit into the wind and forget to duck? I didn't think so.
Next is a small amount of an emulsion or condiment, nothing too moist! No one likes a wet bed. Followed by a protective layer, most always long leaves of lettuce or a hefty bundle of greens. This acts as a barrier between Kendrick and the foundation. What if Kendrick is juicy and moist, you don't want him flooding the foundation with his juices. Or if Kendrick is perfectly fried, you definitely don't want his sharp edges poking holes. And if Kendrick is aged, stinky, salty and sliced thin, you don't want him slipping off of his home.
After Kendrick is cozy and comfortable comes the fun stuff: pickles, marinated things, cheese, more condiments or crispy crunchies (fried onions, potato chips or the like). These are all the fun things you want to taste and see what compliments Kendrick the most. I mean, after all, you took your time really getting to know Kendrick. Amateurs cut corners and cheat by adding the fun stuff first. Ingredients that are super acidic, salty and fatty immediately coat the palate, washing away the need for someone like Kendrick—if you don't mind trash just go with Drake instead.
Put the bread cap on and let Kendrick pop as you crush your sandwich.
ON THE BREAD VS. FILLING BALANCE
Beau Schooler | Chef-owner of In Boca Al Lupo and The Rookery in Juneau, AK, man of few words
1. It all starts with the bread. Shouldn't be cut too thick, but not so thin it falls apart. And always toasted at least lightly for some texture, and to soften any fats in the bread—unless it's to be eaten cold later.
2. I like seasoning both pieces of bread in some fashion. Vegetables are best marinated, pickled, or cooked into a type of condiment for one side of the bread. And the mother sauce, mayo, usually flavored with something or another condiment for the other side.
3. The more meats you have on a sandwich, the thinner it should get. But the less you have the thicker they should be. A bunch of paper thin sliced turkey breast is just weird.
Yoni Levy | Outerlands in SF, grilled cheese impresario
1. Bread needs to support: not too hard so all the shit slips out.
2. The meat has to be fatty and flavorful (if no meat, then huge flavor in the main veg item, like smoked sweet potato with herbs and confit garlic).
3. Needs to have a good mayo, rich, creamy.
4. Must have good acid: a bright-ass vinaigrette or a straight shot of vinegar or pickle liquid to coat the crisp lettuce or cabbage that better be on that thing.
Sarah Rich | Rich Table & RT Rotisserie in SF, and as a rotisserie owning chef/Mom, when she’s not making sandwiches she can be found making sandwiches
1. Don’t pile everything in the middle. Number. One. Pet. Peeve. Spread it out so the sandwich eats evenly for God’s sake. (DON'T NEGLECT THE EDGES OF THE BREAD)
2. Make sure there’s enough mayo/aioli/sauce/vinaigrette. I hate a dry sandwich.
3. Bread should not be over toasted or too hard. I don’t want to cut the roof of my mouth eating it.
Tony Cervone | Souvla in SF, who is in so deep the only sandwich on his mind is the one he makes 1.2 billion times a day—the lamb sandwich.
TC: Clean hands, clean work surface, teamwork. I know it is boring, but it works.
CF: But like, the actual sandwich. How do you avoid making a food pile?
TC: Greek yogurt, spit roasted Lamb, feta cheese. We have to have some Greek-ness to it, whether it is Feta or Mizythra cheese, and our yogurt sauces, we could never use mayo or pickled pepperoncini.
CF: I’m talking like, structurally, is there a method to making sure it eats properly, or isn’t dry—how do you make it not suck? What is it about the order of assembly that makes yours work?
TC: Balance, a lot of olive oil marinade for our meats keep them moist and soft on the bite, a lot of yogurt on the pita, fresh raw veg to give it crunch, pickled red onion to give it some acid, and cheese to give it a little salty tart.
KEEP THAT CHEESE IN ITS PLACE
Scott Vivian | Chef-owner of Beast in Toronto and inventor of the greatest breakfast sandwich on Earth, The Beastwich
1. Cheese always on the bottom.
2. Anything that should be cold (lettuce, tomatoes, mayo) should always go on after hot preparation.
3. Even distribution of all ingredients is a must! Also: hot mayo is gross. Unmelted cheese is bullshit, soggy lettuce is 👎 .
Aaron Hoskins | City Grit Hospitality Group, and man who knows a club sandwich should be a triple decker
1. Sauce on both sides of bread. If two sauces, one on each side.
2. Cheese on the bottom, unless it’s a patty melt or tuna melt, and should it ever be a tuna melt?
3. Season any veggies you use, including greens. You wouldn’t leave veggies unseasoned on any other dish so why on a sandwich?
AND ALWAYS FIGHT FOR THE ONE YOU LOVE
Brooke Mosley | Honeymoon Ice Cream in Mill Valley, CA, always adds an egg to her sandwich