Guest Blog Post from Chef Andrew Hunter

The secret to finding an awesome restaurant

By Chef Andrew Hunter

Here’s a little-known secret among professional chefs and foodies for discovering a great restaurant.  Start by ordering the turkey sandwich.

The all-time lunch favorite is the best indication about the care and passion a restaurant owner or chef puts into creating a memorable eating experience.

Simply put, you know you’ve found an awesome place if the chef turns an ordinary turkey sandwich into something extraordinary.

I’ve been fortunate to work with chefs around the world — from Wolfgang Puck to the heroic cooks who feed our troops in Afghanistan.  The best of the best always put as much effort into creating a menu staple like the turkey sandwich as any other signature dish.

Chef Jason Giles at the Portola Hotel & Spa at Monterey Bay proves this with his Roasted Turkey Mushroom Melt sandwich.  He uses homegrown ingredients wherever possible — like the crusty ciabatta bread, sautéed mushrooms and all-natural turkey.

But that’s just the beginning.  Chef Jason caramelizes onions and mushrooms, then layers Nature’s Ridge turkey and fontina cheese on top and grills until hot and melted.  The sandwich is topped with beautiful (and delicious) homemade pickled red onions that provide a crunch without the overwhelming heat of raw onion.  It’s all layered on toasted bread along with Jason’s own dijon aioli spread.

I came across Chef Jason’s sandwich as a judge in Foster Farms’ recent Best in the West Sandwich Contest.  The sandwich won hands down in the resort restaurant category.

Believe me, Foster Farms tests a lot of turkey sandwiches as the leading supplier of homegrown all-natural turkey to restaurants throughout the west.  But Chef Jason proves once again that great ingredients are only the starting point.  It’s the chef’s heart and soul that turns the basic turkey sandwich into a something with a wow factor.

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