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Hi, I’m Kevin Coupe, and this is MorningNewsBeat Radio, available on iTunes and sponsored this week by Webstop, experts in the art of retail website design.

I want to talk to you this week about sandwiches.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been on the road a good deal working on a video project that will be shown at the CIES World Food Business Summit in New York this June. Our goal is, for a few minutes each day, to transport the retailer and manufacturer delegates beyond the conference hall in midtown Manhattan and give them a taste of innovative food retailing elsewhere in the US. The theme of the Summit is “Ingredients for Success,” and we’ll be identifying some of these ingredients in a series of videos.

(By the way, if you haven't made plans to attend the CIES World Food Business Summit, I suggest you look into it…as always, there will be a fascinating array of speakers and subjects. How I weaseled my way into this august company I’ll never know...but we’ll be there, compliments of the video sponsor, JohnsonDiversey.)

Anyway, back to sandwiches…

I love them. Always have. There is something about the combination of various ingredients between two slices of bread that is just magical to me…hot or cold, simple or complex, there are few things I’d rather eat.

(I include cheeseburgers in this category, because what else is a cheeseburger, really, than the perfect hot sandwich? And if sandwiches are number one in my book, pizza must be number one-a. Jimmy Buffett once said that pizza is the eighth deadly sin, and I concur, especially if you’re talking about the cherry bomb tomato and fennel sausage pizza made at Serious Pie in Seattle, or the salami Piccante with crispy Porcini pizza at Mario Battali’s Tarry Lodge in Port Chester, New York. But I digress…)

At one point in our travels, we were visiting a Wegmans store…and I had one of the best crab cake sandwiches I’ve ever eaten. The chef there told me that when Wegmans went into the Maryland market, making a great crab cake became a top priority; they’d tried about 10 different variations, he said, and thought that they’d finally gotten it right.

I’ll say. Too moist, and a crab cake falls apart. Too dry, and the flavor tends to be gone. Well, this one was just about perfect – flavorful and thick, served on a roll and with a side salad. If I’d had more time and less self-control, I would have eaten three of them.

A few days later, we were at one of Norman Mayne’s outstanding Dorothy Lane Markets in Dayton, Ohio, where I ordered up a chipotle salmon sandwich at the open grill that sits next to the meat department at the back of the store. It was my pleasure to watch as the grill master lovingly basted the salmon with olive oil, explaining to me why it was important to do a little extra basting where the grill marks are. He finished it off with a dusting of chipotle seasoning and served it on a couple of slices of thick bread…and once again, I was in for a major taste experience, mouth filling and delicious.

I didn’t think that these two sandwiches could be topped…but that was before I went to a Lunds Market in downtown Minneapolis, where I ate something truly remarkable. Get this – it was a sandwich made with smoked turkey, Jarlsberg cheese, a slice or two of bacon, topped with cranberry mayonnaise and served warm on toasted thick cinnamon bread.

Now, I have to admit that the cinnamon bread sort of threw me when it was described…but it was amazing, with the sweetness of the bread and mayonnaise perfectly counteracting the saltiness of the bacon and turkey. I may not have done my cholesterol levels any good, but I sure was in a good mood the rest of the day and already am trying to figure out an excuse to return to Minneapolis. Short of that, once these travels have been completed, I intend to see if I can figure out how to replicate this sandwich at home. Anyone know where I can get some good cranberry mayonnaise?

My goal here, however, is not just to make you – and me – hungry, though I must admit that it is taking amazing fortitude not to drool on the laptop keyboard.

Rather, I want you to think of the retailing experience as a kind of sandwich. It isn’t so much the ingredients, but how you put them together, how you try to innovate within the boundaries of the basic concept. I’ve had crab cake sandwiches, salmon sandwiches, and turkey and Jarlsberg sandwiches before…but never served with the kind of care, panache and ingenuity that these sandwiches got.

That’s got to be our goal, I think. Taking both familiar and unfamiliar ingredients and using every bit of creativity that we can muster to turn them into something special and memorable.

For MorningNewsBeat Radio – where lunchtime cannot come soon enough – I’m Kevin Coupe.
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