This is What a $60,000 Sandwich Looks Like
Have you ever seen a $60,000 sandwich? You’re about to.
Chef Robert Butler (below), of Café Ile Saint Louis at Paris Las Vegas, not only made a $60,000 sandwich, he invented one.
Butler, with his right-hand man, Chef Lowell McCain of Le Village Buffet at Paris, was named the first-ever World Food Champion at the Final Table of the World Food Championships held in Las Vegas, Nov. 1-4, 2012.
We asked Chef Butler to re-create his title-winning sandwich. For, you know, blog research purposes.
Chef Butler took part in two competitions during the World Food Championships, winning $10,000 in the sandwich category competition, then snagging $50,000 in the seven-team final World Food Championships battle. The final seven competitors represented the best-of-the-best in a field of 300 challengers from across the country.
The Grand Champion prize-winning sandwich was a “barbeque pulled-pork sandwich on bacon and white cheddar bioche with onion conserve (a jam containing nuts), caramelized sliced apples and white cheddar gratinée using Kraft and Grey Poupon (the event sponsor) products. The pork was cooked with barbeque sauce, Dijon mustard, bourbon, brown sugar and sliced jalapeños and the onion conserve was made with walnuts.”
We put quotation marks around that to ensure you didn’t think we memorized it. We are a Las Vegas blog, not a sandwich ingredient-memorizing robot.
One of the trickiest parts of this whole thing? At one point in the competition, chefs did a blind draw from a bag containing 10 classic sandwiches, and didn’t even know which kind they’d be preparing for the judges. No pressure.
Says Chef Butler, “Pulled pork was the one sandwich I didn’t want to pull out of that bag. It’s not something I eat. I had a lot of ideas for the other nine sandwiches, but nothing ready for this one. Pork is tough. It starts as rubber and often ends as mush. There’s really no life in between.”
One of the key secrets to the winning sandwich? “Probably half a bottle of bourbon went into the pork itself,” says Chef Butler. Suddenly, the chef has this blog’s undivided attention.
Another winning addition was the use of an onion conserve. “Using a conserve came from originally wanting to use Hawaiian rolls, but even when you brown it, it has no body to it. The conserve binding the nuts to the onions gave it a little bit of texture and crunch.”
“I’m still in shock our sandwich won, to be honest,” adds Chef Butler. “A big moment for me was at the Final Table, when Chef Tim Love, who Lowell (McCain) and I respect a lot, from him, a barbeque guy from Texas, to say it was one of the best sandwiches he’s had in a very long time, that was a huge honor.”
Chef Butler’s win was all the more astonishing given he never attended culinary school, and this was his very first cooking competition!
Visit the World Food Championships site for all the event details.
Also, enjoy our exclusive gallery of far more photos than Chef Butler was comfortable having us take.