Why Mason Hereford Adds Potato Chips To His Bologna Sandwiches

It's not a far stretch to call chef Mason Hereford a fan of sandwiches. He once described the simple assembly of bread and toppings as the "perfect food," and makes the humble lunchtime fixture into the focal point of his New Orleans restaurant, Turkey and the Wolf.

Really, who can blame him? Even when not reaching the heights of perfection, the sandwich is still an important food, both culturally in the United States and practically. Ever since the Earl of Sandwich — yes, that's really where the name came from, just ask History — first threw some roast beef between two pieces of bread, the sandwich has been a simple favorite for all ages. Sandwiches are usually made to order, can be taken on the go, and make for familiar fare in new restaurants or cities. These are many of the same reasons why fast food restaurants are built around sandwich offerings (via Britannica).

Potato chips were the only way to stomach a sad sandwich

Hereford didn't always think the sandwich was so great, though. During a visit on Late Night with Seth Meyers, Hereford spoke about one of the signature sandwiches of his childhood: his mom's bologna sandwich. He says it consisted of yellow mustard, American cheese, and bologna, served on white bread. The only way he could choke down the "sad sandwich" was to crush as many potato chips as he could on top.

What started as a coping mechanism, though, grew into one of the standard menu items at Turkey and the Wolf. It also made its way onto the cover of Hereford's first cookbook, which was released earlier this summer, after a bizarre and unexpected delay. Hereford told NPR that the bologna sandwich is actually one of the restaurant's most popular items (no doubt thanks to the addition of the potato chips, as well as a few other quality upgrades, like shredded lettuce). This particular kind of nostalgia is key to Hereford's approach to cooking. He's found that many of his best ideas came from fancying-up favorites from his childhood in rural Virginia. The bologna sandwich — potato chips and all — just happens to be the perfect example of this approach.