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Four Stars: Hot Off the Grill – US Food Trends

20 March 2008

Grilled-chicken sandwiches have surpassed burgers as the most-commonly menued sandwich at commercial operations. But ubiquity makes creativity even more important.

This article first appeared in the 1 March 2008 issue of Restaurants & Institutions (R&I).

R&I is the USA's leading source of food and business-trend information and exclusive research on operators and restaurant patrons. Editorial coverage spans the entire foodservice industry, including chains, independent restaurants, hotels and institutions. To find out more about R&I,visit its website here >>

By Kate Leahy, Senior Associate Editor

Chicken Parmigiana Press (pictured above)
Sodexho USA, multiple locations.
Part of the Gaithersburg, Md.-based contractor's Four Seasons of Flavor corporate-dining series last fall, the sandwich updates familiar chicken-Parmesan flavors. Flatbread is topped with a crispy chicken cutlet, basil, mozzarella and Roma tomatoes and then grilled in a panini press. Marinara sauce is served on the side for dipping.

Free Range Chicken Sandwich

Free Range Chicken Sandwich
Free Range Chicken Sandwich

Blackhawk Grille, Danville, Calif.
The timing was just right when Chef Ryan Jackson put a comfort-driven, Thanksgiving-inspired sandwich on the menu in January; it already has become the restaurant's top-selling sandwich. Grilled chicken, bacon, thyme aïoli, melted triple-crème cheese, spinach and cranberry sauce are layered between slices of toasted ciabatta.

Smothered Chicken Sandwich

Smothered Chicken Sandwich
Smothered Chicken Sandwich

Rockfish Seafood Grill, multiple locations
. For this popular lunchtime sandwich, the Richardson, Texas-based chain spices up a chicken breast with a blackening rub and tops it with Jack and Cheddar cheeses, sautéed mushrooms, peppers and onions. The sandwich is served on a hoagie roll with a side of waffle fries and apple-cider slaw.

Chicken Margarita Panini

Chicken Margarita Panini
Chicken Margarita Panini

Green Leaf's, multiple locations
. Morristown, N.J.-based Villa Enterprises, which owns Grean Leaf's, wanted to introduce a warm sandwich in the winter. The grilled panini meets that goal, although the sandwich's ingredients reflect sunnier times. Slices of rustic Italian bread hold grilled chicken paired with Parmesan, sun-dried tomato, basil and basil aïoli.

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