America’s Best New Sandwiches — 2012

You want sandwiches? We got sandwiches. Last year, Endless Simmer’s post on America’s Top 10 New Sandwiches was our most-read story of 2011, and even helped turn The New Luther into a bit of a sell-out phenomenon. But America’s sandwich artisans haven’t stopped innovating, and we haven’t stopped salivating. So here we go, for your drooling-at-work pleasure, this year’s list of America’s top 10 craziest, loveliest, cheesiest, most creative new sandwiches.

10. The Noble Pig —¬† Noble Pig Sandwiches, Austin

Texas may be best known for its beef, but perhaps not for long, if chefs John Bates and Brandon Martinez have anything to say about it. Their year-and-a-half-old Noble Pig serves up a namesake sandwich that somehow combines everything that is beautiful about pork products on one truly outstanding sandwich. Tender pulled pork, spicy slivers of ham, and crispy bits of bacon are all mixed together, topped with provolone cheese, and served on toasted, house-baked bread, for a porky trifecta that hits all of the spots. (Photo: Marshall Wright)

9. Pane et Panelle — Bar Stuzzichini, New York

Chickpeas may get typecast as functioning only in falafel form, but it turns out balls aren’t all they can do. Panelle is actually an old Sicilian street food snack—chickpeas and flour formed into light, airy strips and fried in olive oil. Stuzzichini‘s sandwich revives that classic and perfects it, layering crispy strips of panelle on a sesame-studded bun, in between levels of soft ricotta and caciocavallo cheeses. The result is a light-but-addictive sandwich that will make you curse every overly dense falafel wrap that has crossed your lips.

8. Chicharrones Banh Mi — Ink Sack, Los Angeles

There are a million banh mis in American nowadays, but we were most swept away by this version from Top Chef champ Michael Voltaggio. At his new Ink Sack sandwich shop, tender slices of pork belly and pork butt are topped with pickled vegetables, plus the kicker — crispy chicharr√≥ne fried pork rinds, creating one incredible multi-culti pork bomb.

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Top Chef Exit Interview: And The Winner Is…

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We say farewell to yet another season of Top Chef, and can I for one moment say I’m thankful for that — perhaps not the most exhilarating season in its history. Sadly, the most thrilling part of the final episode was not who won but who returned, oh Michael of the Voltaggio brothers. Small mercies!

For their final challenge, Angelo, Ed and Kevin were tasked with making the best four-course meal of their life — what else were they going to make, pea puree?

Continue reading to see who won and what he has to say about his time on Top Chef.

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Top Chef Exit Interview: Episode 12

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It’s really getting down to the wire on Top Chef: Las Vegas, with the remaining chef-testants having to endure a culinary Olympics this week. Of course, one unlucky cooker didn’t make it to the finish line. Our (spoiler) chat with them is after the jump.

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Top Chef Exit Interview: Episode 8

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Padma’s ridiculous hat wasn’t the only loser on this week’s Top Chef: Las Vegas. One chef-testant had to go, and we speak with them, after the jump.

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Top Chef Vegas: First Look at the Fauxhawks

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Top Chef returns to Bravo August 26, when he sixth season takes up residence in Las Vegas, chosen for Padma’s excitement about showgirl costumes the rapidly developing local restaurant scene. Inexplicably, Toby Young will return for a second go as everyone’s least favorite judge, while the guest judges will range from the standards (Daniel Boulud) to the Vegas-y (Penn and Teller), the exciting (Nigella) and the even more exciting (Natalie Portman).

But more importantly, which chef-testant is most likely to skyrocket to instant culinary superstardom Spike Mendelsohn-level ubiquity? Here’s our snap judgment of this season’s chef-tenders, ranked by — what else — the audacity of their fauxhawks:

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