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How to Make the Perfect Sandwich: 9 Pro Tips from Tom Colicchio

The Top Chef has it down to a science.

What makes the perfect sandwich? Well, it's definitely as much of a science as an art — and Tom Colicchio is here to tell you how to kill the game.

As part of Arnold Bread’s America’s Better Sandwich Contest, hosted by Oroweat, the Top Chef superstar has developed his own fabulous recipes (everything from a tuna salad with black olives to an egg salad with smoked salmon) and will be a spokesperson for the contest, which welcomes consumer recipes — and pays out in cash, plus loaf donations to Feeding America.

Of course, Tom knows a thing or two about what makes a good sammie, owning a string of Wichcraft sandwich shops.

The Feast caught up with Tom at the 10-year anniversary bash of his Craft restaurant in Los Angeles, where he recalled the first season of Top Chef when there was a sandwich competition that Harold Dieterle won: “It was a mortadella and grape salsa combination that ended up being on the menu at Craft in New York for about a month,” he said. And who could forget that?  

But if you're no pro in the sandwich-building department, consider Tom's top tips for creating the perfect mealtime staple.

1. Always use the freshest ingredients you can find.

"There’s no substitute for a perfectly ripe piece of produce."

2. Make something you actually like.

"Create sandwiches that fit your and your family’s palates — not what the latest trends tell you to."

3. But do get creative.

"At the same time, don’t be afraid to experiment with new things! You can always try again tomorrow."

4. Build a strong foundation.

"The architecture of the sandwich is as important as what you put in it. If it isn’t built solidly, it will fall apart."

5. Minimize the mess.

"If you’re using messier ingredients, like roasted vegetables or condiments such as dressing, try lightly toasting or searing one side of each bread slice until crisp and stack your sandwich with the toasty sides facing in. This will make your sandwich sturdier and help prevent sogginess."

6. Go in order.

"Build sandwiches from the bottom up, starting with the driest and heaviest ingredients first before adding your favorite toppings, like lettuce and tomato. Finally, spread condiments on the second slice of bread before topping the sandwich."

7. Consider the temperature.

"If served cold, put cheese next to the bread to help reinforce the stability of the sandwich. If served hot, put cheese next to the meat so the flavors can properly play off of one another."

8. Dress the greens first.

"Greens should be dressed prior to placement in the sandwich to ensure consistent seasoning throughout."

9. Remember that less is more.

"Most importantly, don’t overload your sandwich to the point of ingredients falling out when you take a bite! And don’t overdo it with condiments — the more you mix them, the more muddled the flavor becomes. Pick one that will really accentuate the flavors you’re highlighting."

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