How Tom Colicchio Balances Sandwiches With Super Rich Flavors

tom colicchio
tom colicchio - Frazer Harrison/Getty Images
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Have you ever bit into a boring PB&J and stopped suddenly, overwhelmed with ennui at the prospect of putting the simple sandwich back into your mouth? If you're experiencing a similar slump, don't fret. Boredom is not on the menu at America's best sandwich shops, and the creative minds behind these delightful delis are as inventive as any professional cook.

One of said sandwich savants is celebrity chef Tom Colicchio. He has myriad sandwich-making strategies, which include starting with stellar ingredients and appropriately assembling your sandwich to prevent mushy messes. However, these considerations are far from Colicchio's biggest concern. Above all, the chef has a culinary philosophy that prioritizes taste. When his sandwiches sing, they harmonize, as he ensures that a sandwich filled with heavy ingredients is complemented by a bit of acid, spice, or sweetness to balance its flavor profile. In doing so, he brings balance to his bold creations.

Read more: 11 Of The Best Cooking Tips From Bobby Flay

Taking Taste Into Account

sandwich - Marko Jan/Getty Images

Since his childhood, Colicchio has taken careful consideration when crafting his food. As a boy, his mother would often make him liverwurst sandwiches, which were made even more pungent by a smear of mustard and a sprinkling of red onion and capers. With this memory of his mother's love, Colicchio would become a master sandwich maker.

When the celebrity chef crafts a sandwich, he considers the creation as a total meal, meaning that simply compounding rich ingredients between bread won't cut the mustard. As one would when cooking dinner, a sandwich must be made with a variety of flavors. Much like Colicchio's tangy apple cider cabbage, his ideal hoagie has an acidic element. After all, acid brings basically any bland food back to life. The sandwich also features something sweet, but not overly sugary. You can cut the sweetness by using ingredients that bring both of these disparate tastes to the table. Pickles and coleslaw are both available in sweet and sour varieties and can also impart earthy notes. For sweet and spicy, he opts for a swipe of pepper jelly.

Finding The Best Balance

spreading jam on bread
spreading jam on bread - Freshsplash/Getty Images

Tom Colicchio has had a lifelong relationship with fine dining and has shared his love of crafting cuisine with the world through his restaurants and his nearly innumerable television appearances. However, it's possible that the best expression of his food fanaticism was 'wichcraft, the sandwich shop Colicchio founded in 2003.

At 'wichcraft, simple sauces didn't suffice -- there, mustard makes way for balsamic onion marmalade. Coliccihio says some customers have claimed the spread could serve as a standalone breakfast. In fact, this special sauce starred in an upscale take on the turkey club. In said sandwich, thick cuts of turkey and several slices of bacon are stuffed into a ciabatta roll with a healthy dollop of marmalade. The chef credits the restaurant's co-founder, Sisha Ortuzar, with suggesting the turkey be sliced thick to better express its moisture.

Unfortunately, 'wichcraft's days of slinging spellbinding sandwiches have sadly passed. The beloved restaurant closed its locations during the pandemic in 2020. However, you can benefit from Colicchio's sandwich skills if you order his cookbook of the same name, a colossal collection of his sandwich selections that he wrote with co-chef Ortuza.

Collichio's sandwich-making strategies still stand. He abides by two rules outside of ingredient selection, both of which pertain to bread. A sandwich needs good bread, which is at its best fresh from the bakery. This bakery bread will also lend your sandwich a solid structure, preventing your picnic from turning into a mushy mess. But most importantly, it's all about balancing your sandwich's flavors. Anything super-rich should be cut with something spicy or acidic.

Read the original article on Daily Meal