Huffing and Puffing My Way to a Sandwich Revelation

Every year Food & Wine throws a huge party honoring the Best New Chefs its editors have just named in the magazine. This year the event was held at Aspen Meadows, part of the Aspen Institute. The setting was magical. Mountains sprouted out of every window you looked out of, with streams and rivers placed ever so perfectly between them. The event was held in a space with three levels. My favorite on the first level was April Bloomfield's pork cheeks. Bloomfield is the chef partner at the Spotted Pig in New York City. But I had a feeling I would find something even better higher up, so I huffed and puffed my way to the third floor (the altitude was killing me).

What I found there was a sandwich revelation, conceived of by Gabriel Rucker, the young, tattooed chef and owner of Le Pigeon in Portland, Oregon. He made grilled bone marrow and caramelized onion sandwiches drizzled with aged balsamic vinegar, the diner food of my dreams. It was so simple, so perfect, and so delicious it left every chef who attended in awe. I sidled up to Rucker and told them this was an audacious, ballsy dish to serve at a fancy-pants event like this. He replied with a devilish grin: "You should have seen the other dishes I proposed."

I saw David Chang of New York City's Momofuku restaurants hovering near the grilled sandwich table shaking his head in awe. "This sandwich is so friggin' good," he said. "I can't believe we didn't think of it. We have been working on a bone marrow dish for Ssäm Bar, but we haven't come up with anything like this."

Someone asked Chang if he would just figure out how to make the sandwich and just put it on the menu. "I don't do that. I can't right now. In ten years I might put it on the menu, but not now."