Issue link: http://magazine.progressivegrocer.com/i/689994
From Korean barbecue and Mexican tacos to Maine lobster rolls and Chinese bao buns, sandwich mash-ups are slicing into the market for lunch and snack fare. Gerry Ludwig, consulting chef at Gordon Food Service, a Grand Rapids, Mich.-based broadline food distribu- tion company, conducts favor expeditions across the country and sees an inspiring amount of innovation out there. He recently talked to about the most proftable ways to mix up sandwich service oferings. How do today's "mash-ups" difer from yesterday's "fusion food"? Gerry Ludwig: Mash-ups stick to cuisines and favor profles that pair better together. Fusion food tried to do things like apply Asian favors to classic European dishes, which didn't always work. Today, chefs are putting slow-roasted meats into four tortillas and fnishing with favors of Korea and Latin America, which just makes a lot more sense. Tese cuisines have a lot of things in common, like sweet-saltiness, some sour elements, fresh greens, herbs. Also, pretty much anything can get wrapped in a burrito to make it portable, which is important now. Is this just an Asian-Latin phenomenon, or do sandwich mash-ups work with other cuisines? GL: Tere are no real limits as long as you keep basic favor profles in mind. I don't like to see people go too crazy with favors, but there's also no need to master a single cuisine. It's a matter of layering two or three favors to create com- plexity. Why are we seeing so many sandwich mash-ups now? GL: Again, portability and grab-and-go are important features. Also, in terms of sandwiches, you can start at the bottom and explore diferent breads and carriers. India and Malaysia [for example] have great breads for wrapping, like naan and paratha. Tey're faky and thicker than a burrito, and are great flled with almost anything. Look at what holds ingredients well and has some dura- bility. I've seen Chinese steamed bao flled with Philly cheesesteak fllings or a regional barbecue. Fried chicken sandwiches are a big trend right now and don't have to be served on a biscuit or roll. How about regional versions, like the Nashville hot chicken or Korean double-fried, on a bread that your bakery does really well? What kinds of condiment trends are emerging from these sandwich mash-ups? GL: I can't point to one big condiment trend, but I would say, try to avoid a "been there, done that" reaction from your customers. Now that Sriracha [sauce] is mainstream, people are seeking the next hot thing. It might not be one particular sauce, but a paste or a spread that has similar favors, with heat, garlic, some sweet-sour notes. Be origi- nal—go house-made whenever possible. — Kathy Hayden Unsung heroes at the sandwich counter Chef Q&A: Chef Gerry Ludwig, Gordon Food Service 40 SOLUTIONS JUNE 2016 COURTESY OF NATIONAL PORK BOARD Korean sandwiches like pork banh mi are inspiring chefs to mix and match flavor profiles.