Nothing says summer has arrived more than a tomato sandwich made with homegrown tomatoes. Six local chefs will add their twists to making the perfect sandwich during the Great Tomato Sandwich Contest, which will be held at this week’s Evans Towne Farmer’s Market.
“There’s something so old-school romantic about a tomato sandwich,” said Kim Hines, an organizer of the Evans Market. “This is a simple way for some really talented local chefs to showcase fresh, heirloom tomatoes grown right here in Columbia County.”
The contest’s participants will be Chef Lonnie Stephenson, of Edgar’s Grille; Chef Dave McCluskey, of Local Pop; Chef Chris Byrd, of The Retreat; Chef Charleen Tinley, of Culinary Connections; Chef Kit Stiles-Williams, of Matters of the Heart; and Chef Matthew Wallace, of A Table and A Season blog.
The contest, which is being sponsored by AgGeorgia Farm Credit will be held Thursday at the Evans Market. Sandwich preparation begins at 5 p.m. and tasting and judging will be held at 6 p.m.
“We’ll have a panel of four judges who will award the first-place trophy,” said Hines, adding that the trophy will be locally made by Handcrafted Cutting Boards of Augusta. “The public will be invited to taste too. That’s the fun part!”
McCluskey says his strategy for preparing the perfect tomato sandwich will include the basic components – tomatoes, bread and mayo.
“The tomato; it really is all about this summer favorite,” McCluskey said. “I’ll be hoping for something ripe firstly, and then I’ll look for one of the flavorful heirlooms if they’re to be had.”
McCluskey said he’ll more than likely use Duke’s mayonnaise as a base and then “enhance it with a few other ingredients.” He’ll likely opt for fresh-baked bread, preferably a white sandwich loaf. However, he notes that rolls also work well.
“I’ll use salt and pepper, of course,” he said. “How the tomatoes taste will depend on what else I might add.”
The contest is an effort by market organizers to highlight local growers and their products.
“At Augusta Locally Grown, we know that chefs will necessarily be at the forefront of building a stronger local food system in the CSRA. This contest is just a start,” Hines said.