Mauro tells The Daily Meal, “When I was a kid, my mom would send me to school with grilled cheese for lunch. No matter how expertly cooked, no grilled cheese sandwich tastes good hours after it’s been prepared. After endless complaints, my mom told me to make my own lunch if I didn’t want hers! So I did. I started segmenting ingredients of a turkey sandwich – turkey, cheese, lettuce, and tomato – into individual bags, which would ensure ultimate freshness when I assembled and ate my sandwiches at school. I definitely stood out in the cafeteria, but it sort of laid out what I would end up doing as my career.”
We caught up with Mauro at the International Home + Housewares Show in Chicago, where he was demonstrating the latest products from George Foreman and BLACK+DECKER. Mauro shared his top sandwich tips and divulged his perfect midnight snack.
What are your top do's and don’ts for the perfect sandwich?
Do: Taking the extra step to melt cheese or cook up some of the sandwich components. A piece of equipment that I love right now is the George Foreman Grill & Broil. With one appliance, I can grill up steak and vegetables, then broil and melt cheese. Taking this extra step brings my sandwiches to the next level.
Do: Think about the bread you are using – there are so many varieties of sliced bread, rolls, and subs, and each works differently depending on the sandwich you are creating.
Don’t: Forgetting the importance of condiments. I believe these really finish off a sandwich and add that extra layer of flavor. And don’t be afraid to layer different condiments or add them as a marinade for meats so that the flavors are felt throughout the sandwich.
Do: Obey proper sandwich ratios. Ensure that the selected ingredients are proportional to the sandwich size – it is fine to pile the sandwich high with delicious fixings, but it becomes impossible to eat all the ingredients if they are too thick or oversized (though that can be enjoyable at the right place and time). To create well proportioned ingredients, I use the BLACK+DECKER MultiPrep Slice ‘N Dice which has a variety of discs that are easily interchangeable depending on the ingredient and thickness that you are looking for. This allows me to include a variety of fixings for any type of sandwich.
Favorite sandwich of all time?
My absolute favorite sandwich is a hand cut pastrami on rye with a mustard schmear. Langer’s Delicatessen in Los Angeles, CA has perfected this. I’m also a huge fan of the sweet and hot Italian beef sandwich from Johnnie’s Beef, in Elmwood Park, IL. I’ve been visiting Johnnie’s since I was a kid. My ideal sandwich always has a great meat to cheese ratio, fresh ingredients, and perfectly rendered fat.
It’s midnight and you’re hungry. Walk us through your perfect midnight snack.
My wife Sarah’s homemade chocolate chip cookies, fresh from the oven. I eat the cookies with hot fudge, crushed cashews, and a scoop of ice cream. You can’t do any better than warm cookies as a late night treat.
Where is the best hot dog in Chicago?
The first time my dad ever took me to get a hot dog was life-changing. I love Gene & Jude’s – they got their start in the 40s and have been producing the same quality hot dogs ever since. They steam their dogs and top them with yellow mustard, sweet relish, onions, peppers, and fries. Maybe not classic “Chicago” style, but definitely one of the best.