Stories / Awards, Guides and Tips

This Award Winner's Tips Will Make You a Sandwich King

Maggie Borden

September 25, 2017


When it comes to lunch, we've covered your salad needs, but what if you're itching for something a little less greens-forward? Everyone knows that in the land of the midday meal, the sandwich is king. And if you're looking to revamp your reuben game and trade up on your turkey club, you have to start with the bread you're slicing. We asked grain guru and 2017 JBF Outstanding Baker Award winner Mark Furstenburg of D.C.'s Bread Furst to share his top tips (and a recipe!) for optimal loaf-and-filling pairings.


There's one sandwich in our repertoire that can’t disappear from the menu, even for a few days—the customers won’t stand for it. It’s our jambon-beurre with ham from Heritage Foods, high-fat butter, very thin slices of a good Gruyère, all put inside our baguette. It has to be offered seven days a week, and out on the counter every day by 10:30 A.M. It has everything I want in a sandwich: good ingredients, uncomplicated flavors, and varied textures: the crunch of the baguette’s darkly baked crust and the wheaty chewiness of its interior. We also use that baguette for an equally simple sandwich of sliced local tomatoes, mozzarella, pesto mayonnaise, and arugula. Nothing could be simpler, and again, speaking with considerable bias, I think the textures and flavors of the bread count the most.

Some sandwiches require a roll, and our basic roll is called Palladin. Back in 1991, my bakery had been open only three months when Jean Louis Palladin asked me to create a light and very crusty bread for his restaurant at the Watergate Hotel—and we use the same recipe today. in the summer, we use these rolls for our pan bagna, which also contains Italian canned tuna, garlic, anchovies, red onions, basil leaves, olives, red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, and olive oil, all topped with tomatoes, sliced hard-boiled eggs, and cucumber. In the winter, we use the rolls to make a Cuban roast pork sandwiches from marinated and slowly roasted pork shoulder, sliced ham, sliced Gruyère, garlic, lime juice, sliced jalapeños, and our sweet pickles. The roll is buttered on two sides, and then smashed onto our grill.

Our third basic sandwich bread is a coarse, seedy multigrain that's currently my favorite bread to eat for my own dinner. Like all of our breads, it’s baked very dark so that the sweet/bitter flavor of the crust is the first thing you taste. That bread is wonderful with our deviled egg salad (eggs, anchovies, red onions, jalapeños, garlic, cider vinegar, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, horseradish, and parsley) topped with shredded arugula and radicchio—or to be fully modern and trendy, with shredded kale.

I am very drawn to bitter flavors and so our rye bread is awfully good with slices of grilled eggplant, roasted red peppers, and summer squash. That filling is put between slices our rye bread baked in loaf pans and topped with a sauce of minced garlic that been “cooked” in lemon juice beaten with black sesame paste, garlic, cayenne, and olive oil. In the winter that same sauce can be used to flavor turkey breast that has been brined and roasted, and then topped with two slices of strong woody bacon and sandwiched between the sliced rye.

Bring Bread Furst's flavors home with Mark's recipe for whole wheat barley bread.


Maggie Borden is associate editor at the James Beard Foundation. Find her on Instagram and Twitter.