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Why Mason Hereford Thinks The Sandwich Is The Perfect Food

While not always the most delicious food, the sandwich is certainly one of the most practical. And, according to New Orleans-based chef Mason Hereford, a perfect food.

The modern version of a sandwich — yes, there are other versions of sandwiches – was likely first popularized by a man named John Montagu who is likely better known for being the Fourth Earl of Sandwich (via History). Supposedly, his problem gambling led to an inability to leave the table, and the practical meal of roast beef between two slices of bread was created. While some historians credit his inspiration to previous trips to Turkey where it was common to eat meat wrapped in flatbreads, he is still credited as the dish's namesake.

Since then, the sandwich has mostly been considered a practical affair confined to lunch boxes and gas stations and eventually would capture the heart of chef Mason Hereford. Hereford grew up in Charlottesville, Virginia, but would go on to open Turkey and the Wolf in New Orleans. The sandwich shop opened in 2016 and was named Best New Restaurant in America by Bon Appétit in 2017 (via NPR). Hereford recently appeared on Late Night with Seth Meyers to promote his new cookbook "Turkey and the Wolf: Flavor Trippin' in New Orleans" while waxing poetic about the beauty of the sandwich.

Hereford says every bite of the sandwich is pre-ordained

During his Late Night appearance, the mulleted and mustachioed chef Mason Hereford introduced host Seth Meyers to one of Turkey and the Wolf's signature sandwiches — after the two had shared a shot and a glass of beer of course. Hereford says that this sandwich was inspired by the bologna sandwich his mother made him when he was a child. He says he hated the sandwich, and the only way that he was able to bear it was to top it with handfuls of potato chips. Which is exactly how he presented the meal to Meyers.

As Hereford prepared the sandwich, self-proclaimed sandwich-lover Meyers commented on his adoration for the culinary medium (via Late Night). Hereford says the sandwich is a perfect food because every bite of the sandwich is "preordained."  A typical plate of food allows the diner to approach the meal however they choose; they can combine the components as they like or avoid ingredients they'd rather skip. With a sandwich, it's the chef's choice. 

"You've decided exactly how they're going to eat it, and every bite has to be absolutely perfect," said Hereford.

While Hereford told NPR that many of Turkey and the Wolf's sandwich options originate as collaborations among the kitchen staff, combinations like the bologna sandwich and their ham sandwich are heightened versions of those he ate as a kid growing up in Charlottesville (via Bon Appétit).