Christy Matte doesn’t have much of a culinary background. But that hasn’t stopped her from creating a sandwich that restaurant patrons could be devouring across the country next year.
The Wilmington resident is one of 20 finalists out of 35,000 entries in Panera Bread’s Sandwich Showdown. If selected, her Smokey-Sweet Picnic Delight will be added to the national café’s menu for a limited time in 2013, and she would receive $10,000 in prize money among other items.
“I love to bake, but I’m sure my family was chuckling when they heard I made it to the final round,” said Matte. “It was totally unexpected.”
For her grilled creation, Matte started out with Asiago cheese bread before adding smoked chicken and applewood smoked bacon to her creation. Then she opted for Fuji apples and romaine lettuce, shredded Asiago and Parmesan cheese, black pepper and Fuji apple vinaigrette to top off the creation.
“The flavors are classics but combined in an unusual way,” said Matte. “I think people will read through the list of ingredients and think 'I like that… and that… and that.' In addition, although it’s designed to be a hot sandwich, it’s the sort of thing that would be delicious hot or cold. It’s a nice sandwich to take on the go.”
Now Panera fans across the country have the opportunity to vote for Matte’s sandwich, and she is calling on her fellow Wilmington residents to support her as well.
To vote for Matte’s sandwich, visit the contest’s website and choose “Vote Now” to bring up the contest entries. Though the local entry isn’t yet inside the Top Ten, voting lasts until November 11.
Matte said if selected as the grand prize winner, she has plans for the $10,000. She said her family would put some towards bills and savings, hold some aside for a family trip, and also make a donation to the local food bank because she said she knows her neighbors are struggling to put food on the table.
Regardless of the contest’s outcome, Matte said it’s been an exciting trip into the culinary world for someone with no professional cooking experience.
“I made the sandwich on a whim,” she said. “I put in the time to choose the ingredients that I thought would have a wide appeal, but I honestly never expected to hear about it again.”