Tom Colicchio

Tom Colicchio on the first Restaurant Wars and what makes a great sandwich.

on Dec 15, 2008

This week's Quickfire Challenge - creating the perfect sandwich - was one near to my heart. A bit of history - after opening Craft in March of 2001, I found myself walking a groove in the pavement between the new restaurant and Gramercy Tavern, my first Flatiron eatery, around the corner. I made the trip five or six times a day, and each time would pass a generic New York City deli that offered everything from baby aspirin to exotic flowers, but not the one thing I craved - a great sandwich. Now you're thinking, 'You own a restaurant, dude; go into the kitchen and make your own damn sandwich.' Easier said than done - the kitchens at Gramercy Tavern and Craft run like their own ecosystems; disturb one area, and you throw another one out of whack. Helping myself to a cook's carefully prepped stash of ingredients - known as their 'mise-en-place' - would show disregard for the hours of hard work that went into setting it up. So I decided to open a place that offered the same great, artisan ingredients as Craft, and the same attention to detail and flavor, between two pieces of bread. My wife came up with the name 'wichCraft (she's kind of brilliant) and a sandwich shop was born. I worked closely with Sisha Ortuzar, my partner at 'wichCraft, to come up with truly great sandwiches.