Robert Irvine Wins People's Choice Award at Sandwich Showdown

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Photo by: Noam Galai ©2014 Getty Images

Noam Galai, 2014 Getty Images

From Cuban-inspired meatballs to IPA-braised pork belly, the  New York City Wine & Food Festival’s fifth annual Stacked event featured some serious gourmet fare served between two pieces of bread. During this walk-around lunchtime soiree, guests sipped on moonshine-spiked cocktails while contemplating their most-recent bite and strategizing which dish to try next. And while some of the lines were long, taste testers didn’t seem to mind. Participating in the competition were more than a dozen of today’s top chefs who take the concept of a sandwich very seriously.  Restaurant: Impossible’s Robert Irvine was both the host of the tasting as well as a contender in the sandwich showdown.

Each roll, bun and biscuit was filled with an exceptional, and sometimes unlikely, combination of ingredients. Meat-lovers were pleasantly surprised by the cauliflower and pickled beets at the No. 7 Sub station, and we found it hard not to return for seconds from Empire Biscuits, where flaky biscuits came with duck liver and grits spread, green tomato chow chow and a sunny-side quail egg.

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Photo by: Noam Galai ©2014 Getty Images

Noam Galai, 2014 Getty Images

In an effort to defend his people’s choice title from last year, Chef Michael Ferraro from Delicatessen dished out pan-roasted chicken thigh sandwiches with olive pesto, sweet pepper aioli and Burrata cheese. Ferraro explained that along with balance of flavor, texture, and execution, choosing a theme is key to any good sandwich. The Mediterranean flavors of his dish were definitely popular among the crowd, but the chef he feared most at the showdown was Robert.

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Photo by: Noam Galai ©2014 Getty Images

Noam Galai, 2014 Getty Images

FN Dish caught up with the Food Network star, who explained that it all comes down to each component — the bread, what goes in the sandwich and the accompaniments — and how they work together to “really hit the taste buds.” Inspired by the spirits of the afternoon, he served smoked espresso-rubbed brisket sandwiches with grilled onions and horseradish aioli: “Coffee interacts really well with moonshine,” he explained. And because he’s all about the texture, he paired the BBQ sandwich with a crunchy celery root slaw. Spicy, sweet and smoky at all once, his sandwich was a delicious success and ultimately earned him the people’s choice award for Best Sandwich and $5,000 to donate to his charity of choice.

Keep coming back to FN Dish all weekend long for continued coverage of the 2014 New York City Wine & Food Festival.

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Photo by: Noam Galai ©2014 Getty Images

Noam Galai, 2014 Getty Images

Photos by Noam Galai/Getty Images for NYCWFF and Lauren Miyashiro
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