The Melting Pot : Upper Crust

Bacon has overtaken chicken as the most popular filling in commercially made sandwiches – but traditional fillings are gradually losing thier dominance, as consumers look for new and more exciting options.

The global larder offers a bounty of thrilling ingredients and the sandwich market has responded accordingly in line with the latest food trends.

Here several inventive chefs share their suggestions for brilliant butties, with recommendations for perfect carriers and accompaniments.

Martin Willsher head of innovation, Soho Coffee Company
I won the 2017 Sandwich Designer of the Year Grand Final with my St Clement’s Duck for which I used a lemon and thyme infused brioche bun as the carrier and complemented the duck with a St Clement’s marmalade (orange, lemon and shallot) with an apricot and thyme granola. For me that’s the beauty of a sandwich. It can be basic-done-beautifully, like cheese and ham, or you can use ingredients that can really turn that sandwich into a five-star creation

Nick Willoughby Bayou Bar, Tooting
At Bayou Bar, our new site in Tooting, our food off ering focuses around high-quality New Orleans Po Boy sandwiches. Originally getting its name from French bread with scraps of meat and gravy given by restaurants to the poor on the picket line during the 1920s Tram strike in New Orleans, Po Boys have evolved into delicious sandwiches packed full of creole cajun fl avour. With options like blackened shrimp, roast beef brisket or even Buff alo fried caulifl ower for our vegetarian customers, they are far cry from the more traditional concept but perfect for our market bar setting and cooking on our Green Egg BBQ just takes it to the next level

Lorraine Duthie Lettuce Eat Healthy Sandwich, Soup & Salad Bar, Peterhead, Aberdeenshire
There are no rules that say sandwiches have to be savoury. We created a sweet sandwich for last year’s Sammies Awards in the Sandwich Designer of the Year competition. We used a New York Bakery Croll which is roll/croissant hybrid and fi lled it with delicious sweet fl avours including a whisky-infused cream giving it a very authentic taste of our region here in Scotland. The beauty of a sandwich is it can be sweet. It can be savoury. Whatever you choose to put between those layers of bread can totally transform the essence of that sandwich. We made it through to the Sandwich Designer Final with our sandwich. Ours was the only sweet sandwich and the judges were really impressed with the innovation, moving away from the traditional savoury sandwich.

Angharad Underwood owner of The Preservation Society, which produces chutneys, pickles and preserves
One of our favourite sandwiches is a modern twist on the traditional cheese and pickle with halloumi and candied jalapeños on a toasted bagel. The salt of the halloumi works brilliantly with the sweet kick from the candied jalapeños and add a rainbow salad and roasted peppers to give a crunch to the texture. We’ve seen a huge increase in sales for our jams and chutneys as they work as a really tasty addition to perk up the most basic sandwich.

Ollie Bragg roving chef at Vegetarian for Life
Instead of a classic BLT sandwich, make a TLT – tempeh, lettuce, and tomato. It’s not an original concept, but if each component is packed with fl avour it’s a real winner. Add grilled tempeh alongside oven-roasted cherry tomatoes, some shredded lettuce and a generous slather of vegan mayo with some avocado on thick slices of sourdough bread.

Or if you fancy something a little bit spicier, then the Vietnamese classic is defi nitely one packed with fl avour. For a spicy option toast a long bread baton, such as a baguette, add pickled veggies (best done the night before), coriander and fresh chilli, some deliciously marinated tofu and you have a delicious vegan Banh Mi Sandwich.

Paul Hunt executive chef at frozen food distributor Central Foods
Wraps are a great carrier for a world of fl avours. Using fl avoured wraps will boost visual appeal and, as well as being eye-catching on any display shelf, can also boost the nutritional value of what you’re serving. Wraps fl avoured by vegetables such as spinach, pumpkin and beetroot are all available. Opt for vegan and vegetarian friendly products, as this gives fl exibility to create fi lled wraps that are suitable for both meat eaters and those looking for plantbased options. And pack with a range of tasty fi llings to devise mouth-watering wraps for eat in or take away to keep customers coming back for more.

Ben Bartlett celebrity chef and brand ambassador for Lion sauces, from AAK Foodservice
Those in the South Asian jackfruit industry must wonder what’s hit them, as this hitherto little-known fruit suddenly crops up on menus throughout the western world. There’s no doubt it’s popular with those looking for a vegan alternative to pulled pork, as it’s a great carrier for sweet and sticky BBQ sauces. Slow cook it until its fi bres separate, add crushed beans or lentils for a vital protein boost, mix generously with maple and bourbon BBQ sauce, and serve in a wrap, roll or bun with lettuce, tomato, and fresh crunchy slaw made with Lion Premium Vegan Mayo

Fergus Martin executive development chef, Major International
With new products coming onto the market all the time, there are a number of ways to create interesting and on trend fi llings for your plant-based off er. Soya curls are a fantastic plant-protein to use in vegan and vegetarian fi llings as they take on fl avour in the same way meat does and can be marinated in a range of on-trend fl avours. You could try a classic combination like Barbecue and Piri Piri or give your fi lling a North African twist by using the Major Moroccan Mari Base and adding cous cous.

Joanne Davis catering manager at Ardingly College in Mid Sussex
We make packed lunches for pupils who are going out on school trips and their teachers take orders in advance for what each pupil would like. They have a choice of bread and fi llings, and their overwhelming favourite is chicken, bacon and mayonnaise. They’re not keen on cheese and tomato, but cheese and marmite is a big hit, and they can’t get enough of tuna mayonnaise with cucumber. Around 30% of our pupils don’t like butter on their sandwiches and our toddlers want very plain sandwiches, so they get brown bread with plain cheese, ham or tuna – and defi nitely no salad!

Richard Fletcher cook at St Michael’s Hospice in Hereford
Made with fresh local ingredients, a sandwich can provide our patients with all the nutrition and calories they need. People love the convenience of a sandwich, and a longtime favourite has been egg mayonnaise. Over the last year or two, more people are asking for vegetarian options, so we are creating tasty snacks with ingredients like spinach, falafel, kale and mixed leaves. Also, adding fresh herbs to a sandwich helps stimulate tastebuds and can help patients regain their appetite. Finally, with friends and families travelling long distances to visit loved ones, it’s always important that we have the facilities to provide sandwiches at any time of day or night.