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Sandwiches That You Will Like

 Show website | Post-Gazette review| Main

PBS premiere Wednesday, January 8, 8PM (check local listings)

Sandwiches are just one of the great American foods. From peanut-butter-and-jelly to roast beef to Italian hoagies and Texas barbecue on a bun, these simple, tasty stacks of assorted breads and fillings are one of the main fuels of Americans across the country. And in an age of ever-expanding national franchises, there are still many unusual little restaurants and stands that serve unique, locally famous sandwiches that help preserve some of our country's regional charms.

So, sandwiches make a perfect topic for Sebak and his crew from WQED Pittsburgh (the folks who brought you "A Hot Dog Program" and "An Ice Cream Show" among others on PBS.) Sandwiches That You Will Like is an exciting explosion of American voices talking about favorite sandwiches, tastes, traditions and toppings. (cont'd below)

Click to view/download (300 DPI JPGs, print size, appr. 3" x 4").
Credit: WQED Pittsburgh.

At Taylor's Maid Rite, Marshalltown, IA.

From George's in Philadelphia, PA. The logo was based on this old card.

Rick Sebak at Pat's in Philadelphia, PA.

Muffalettas at Central Grocery, New Orleans, LA.

The Brown Hotel, Louisville, KY, home of the Hot Brown.

Thelma of Thelma's Bar B Que, Houston, TX.

Food critic Holly Moore at Pat's in Philly, PA.

Philadelphia, PA.

Mr. Beef, Chicago, IL.



At Isaly's, Irwin, PA.

West View, PA.

Traveling from Red's Eats (where you can get a luscious lobster roll) in Wiscasset, Maine, to Huong Lan Sandwiches (where there are many kinds of banh mi, the tasty Vietnamese treats on French bread) in San Jose, California, Rick and his crew have gathered and assembled images and interviews into a sort of video mosaic that celebrates regional American foods and delicious neighborhood cultures.

There's a lot of beef in the program. In Buffalo, Rick and crew visit a small restaurant called Schwabl's that specializes in thinly sliced beef on an unusual German-style roll called a kümmelweck, making the western New York specialty known as "beef-n-weck." At Revere Beach near Boston, Kelly's puts rare roast beef on big toasted buns. In Chicago, at many places, including the enticing Mr. Beef, there are juicy Italian beef sandwiches topped with hot-pepper giardiniera. And, of course, in Philadelphia, the beef is grilled and combined with onions and cheese (if you know how to order correctly) to create a classic cheesesteak at places like Pat's and Geno's.

In New Orleans, every day the Central Grocery turns out hundreds of large, round, salami-ham-and-cheese sandwiches known as muffulettas, topped with an unforgettable chopped-olive salad, while at the Uptown neighborhood bar called Domalise's, you can get some sublime sub-like sandwiches called "po-boys," filled with fried oysters or shrimp, among other things.

"One of our biggest problems with this show," says Rick, "was figuring out which of the many different sandwiches we would and could include in the hour-long documentary. Even here in Pittsburgh, we were blessed with lots of possibilities. Pittsburgh is a great sandwich town, and of course we'll mention Primanti's, but we also stopped at Chiodo's Bar in Homestead for a "mystery sandwich," and at Charlie's in North Oakland for a Pittsburgh cheesesteak, then on to Isaly's in West View for a chipped ham "Slammer" on the amazing homemade buns there."

Some truly unusual sandwiches also make the program's menu. Ever had a St. Paul sandwich in St. Louis? It's an egg-foo-yung patty on white bread with lettuce and tomato. How about a Maid-Rite "loosemeat" sandwich in Iowa? It's freshly ground beef seasoned with just salt and pepper then scooped into a bun. In Louisville, Kentucky, you can get a Hot Brown sandwich at the Brown Hotel. It's an open-faced turkey sandwich, covered with cheese sauce and strips of bacon.

The program looks at a few old favorites too, like peanut-butter-and-jelly in New York's Greenwich Village, French dips at Philippe's in Los Angeles, pastrami at Katz's Deli in Manhattan, and classic Italian hoagies in South Philly. "It ends up being about more than just the sandwiches," says Rick.

"It's about all the people who love these unusual places with a passion. It's about attention to detail and the care that's taken to preserve culinary traditions. It's about regional accents and the diversity of American tastes. And, having used sandwiches as a reason to explore America, we hope other people will want to try some 'sandwich tourism' themselves."

Sandwiches That You Will Like is Rick's sixth national program for PBS, his twenty-second major documentary for WQED since he came to work here in 1987. This will be the first Sebak production available on DVD (although you will have to pledge to your local PBS station to get the disc), and the first to have a companion book (also available only as a thank-you gift for pledging), written by Becky Mercuri, author of Food Festival U.S.A. with a production diary by Sebak and a Foreward by Pat Bruno from the Chicago Sun Times.

Sandwiches That You Will Like is made possible by contributions to your PBS station from viewers like you. Rick Sebak produced, wrote and narrated the program; Kevin Conrad edited it; Buck Brinson was the Director of Photography; Minette Seate was Associate Producer; Bob Lubomski did the sound work, and Patty Walker was Project Director.

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