Blog of an aspiring foodie

Is a burrito a sandwich

Posted by beer_chris on 11-November-2006

This is a really important question – especially to Panera Bread Company.

Is a Burrito a Sandwich? Judge Says No

Friday November 10, 3:25 pm ET

Massachusetts Judge Settles Food Fight by Ruling Burrito Is Not a Sandwich

WORCESTER, Mass. (AP) — Is a burrito a sandwich? The Panera Bread Co. bakery-and-cafe chain says yes. But a judge said no, ruling against Panera in its bid to prevent a Mexican restaurant from moving into the same shopping mall.

Panera has a clause in its lease that prevents the White City Shopping Center in Shrewsbury from renting to another sandwich shop. Panera tried to invoke that clause to stop the opening of an Qdoba Mexican Grill.

But Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Locke cited Webster's Dictionary as well as testimony from a chef and a former high-ranking federal agriculture official in ruling that Qdoba's burritos and other offerings are not sandwiches.

The difference, the judge ruled, comes down to two slices of bread versus one tortilla.

“A sandwich is not commonly understood to include burritos, tacos and quesadillas, which are typically made with a single tortilla and stuffed with a choice filling of meat, rice, and beans,” Locke wrote in a decision released last week.

In court papers, Panera, a St. Louis-based chain of more than 900 cafes, argued for a broad definition of a sandwich, saying that a flour tortilla is bread and that a food product with bread and a filling is a sandwich.

Qdoba, owned by San Diego-based Jack in the Box Inc., called food experts to testify on its behalf.

Among them was Cambridge chef Chris Schlesinger, who said in an affidavit: “I know of no chef or culinary historian who would call a burrito a sandwich. Indeed, the notion would be absurd to any credible chef or culinary historian.”

Quoted from the AP wire story

So who is Chris Schlesinger? Looks to me to be an east coast chef who writes cookbooks about grilling meat. I cannot find a web page or a bio of the guy – all I can guess is that he seems to be pretty well known – and he seems to own (or at least be directly involved with) a restaurant that serves nothing but sandwiches – the All Star Sandwich Bar in Boston. And if the home page is to be taken seriously, Panera better not try to establish that wraps are sandwiches. Schlesinger likely would be first to defend, as the page proudly declares the All Star to be 'Wrap Free since 2006'.

Further thoughts – the All Star menu is a bit deeper then Tom Colicchio's 'wichcraft restaurant chain in NYC – which (no pun intended) opened a few years ago. Clearly the same concept though. Aside, I think it was ep 2 of Season 1 of TC I researched this, and it was Ep 7 where the QuickFire was to create a sandwich for the 'wichcraft menu? As I remember Harold won – I don't quite remember what his sandwich was – I think it had artichoke on it. Not as close as I thought. Thanks to a a Houston Chronicle TV blogger I now know that Harold won the first challenge with a mortadella, grapes, roasted peppers and sunchoke mayo concoction. Doesn't look like it's on the 'wichcraft menu anymore.

So Schlesinger is at least a Colicchio copycat a few miles to the north? And perhaps a shill for the fast food industry when they need someone to weigh in with snobbish hyperbole on important topics like whether a burrito is a sandwich?

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