White, wheat or rye?: Philly chefs and personalities prep stations for month-long sandwich competition

March in Philadelphia doesn’t have to just be about a high-stakes, collegiate basketball competition.Beginning March 4, Old City’s High Street on Market will host Sandwich Battles, its own culinary iteration of March Madness but served with a heaping plate of…

March in Philadelphia doesn’t have to just be about a high-stakes, collegiate basketball competition.

Beginning March 4, Old City’s High Street on Market will host Sandwich Battles, its own culinary iteration of March Madness but served with a heaping plate of Food Network’s Chopped. In its inaugural year, the official Sandwich Battles Bracket currently consists of 12 top chefs and well-known Philadelphians. Each Monday for five continuous weeks, three cooks and personalities will fire up the grill using a specific type of bread and mystery ingredient in an effort to make the tastiest sandwich.

“We’ve been working on the line up for a while and can’t wait to see what everyone brings to the table,” said Andrew Farley, chef at High Street. “This won’t be a tea party. These players are going to give it all they got and as host and official referee, I’m excited to give the play-by-play and make sure all of our attendees have a good time. It’ll be nice to be on the floor this time and not in the kitchen.”

An evolving list of competitors, the lineup already showcases an impressive list of chefs and restaurateurs. Executive chefs competing in the Sandwich Battles consist of Executive Chef Damon Menapace of Le Virtu, Executive Chef Matt Budenstein of Liberty Kitchen and Chef de Cuisine Rob Marzinsky for the Philadelphia 76ers.

Chef-owners on the roster include Jon Nodler of Cadence, Michael Strauss of Mike’s BBQ, Keith Krajewski and Matthew Cahn of Middle Child and Nick Elmi of Laurel, ITV, and Royal Boucherie. Restaurant owners and founders Jonathan Adams AKA “Johnny Mac” of  Rival Brothers and Kiki Aranita of Poi Dog will also be throwing their bun in the ring.

The competition will also sport personalities, such as former Philadelphia Eagles player Darwin Walker and Street Gazing founder and former Philadelphia Daily News photojournalist Reuben “Big Rube” Harley.

A theatrical experience, participants will be given a sandwich-making station for the showdown to take place. Samples of the final products will then be served to the table-seated audience, all of whom will have voting cards. In addition to sandwich samples and voting rights, guests will enjoy house-made sides and a bucket of beers from a rotating local brewery.

The single-elimination tournament will end with the Final Four Championship on Monday, April 1, where one will earn the title of Sandwich Battles Champion and, of course, bragging rights.

There will be an after-party after each weekly battle, complete with light bites and a cash bar. 

Sandwich Battle | Mondays March 4-April 1. 7-9pm. $25. High Street on Market, 308 Market St. eventbrite.com/e/sandwich-battles-tickets-56923358297

TWITTER:@ANDREAJCANTOR

THE SPREAD

To provide something else to consider instead of a month of college hoops, Old City’s High Street on Market has pitted some of the best chefs, cooks and personalities in Philly against each other to see who among them can make the best sandwich in Philadelphia.

Here’s a look at the field, and when they are scheduled to compete.  

Competition schedule thus far (subject to change):

First Round | Monday, March 4

Damon Menapace, executive chef, Le Virtu

Jonathan Adams AKA “Johnny Mac,” co-founder and owner, Rival Brothers

Michael Strauss, chef-owner, Mike’s BBQ 

Second Round | Monday, March 11

Kiki Aranita, founder and owner, Poi Dog

Darwin Walker, former defensive tackle, Philadelphia Eagles 

Third Round | Monday, March 18

Keith Krajewski and Matthew Cahn, executive chef and founder-owner, Middle Child

Jon Nodler, chef-owner, Cadence

Reuben “Big Rube” Harley, Street Gazing founder and Philadelphia Daily News columnist

Fourth Round | Monday, March 25

Rob Marzinsky, chef de cuisine, Philadelphia 76ers

Matt Budenstein, executive chef, Liberty Kitchen

Nick Elmi, chef-owner, Laurel, ITV and Royal Boucherie 

“Final Four” Winner-Takes-All Championship | Monday, April 1, TBA