Chef Aran's Featured Item of the Week
mmmmm, French Dip Sandwiches...
Can you believe it... this sandwich is not French at all! It's actually an American invention originating in Los Angeles around 1918. Philippe Mathieu opened up Ph. Mathieu’s restaurant in 1908. It is still operating to this day, making it one of the oldest continuously running restaurants in the country. The story goes that one day as Mathiue was serving at the lunch counter, he accidentally dropped part of the sandwich roll in some roast drippings, soaking the bread. The customer told him not to worry about it and took the sandwich anyway. The customer loved it and came back repeatedly for the same sandwich.
Other versions of the story say that a customer complained about the bread being dry, so Mathieu dunked it in sauce to get rid of them. Yet another version says that a customer requested the sandwich to be dipped in the pan drippings. Through request, accident or short-tempered disgust, a tradition was born in the early 1900’s and continues being offered in many quick service restaurants, delis, and diners across the United States.
Jus (French for broth or juice from a roast) is the key to a great French Dip sandwich. When a sandwich is served Au Jus, it simply implies that it is served “with Juice.” But how did this sandwich become known as the French Dip? Since everyone in town referred to Mathiue as Frenchy, customers would go into other restaurants and request that they dip their sandwich the way Frenchy did.
Personally, I like to think that the combination was an accident. So many of life’s great discoveries and joys are stumbled upon by accident. At Philippe the Original in Los Angeles, you can have your sandwich single- or double-dipped. At UNC, we serve the Jus "on the side" and allow you to choose. If you have never tried a French Dip sandwich, I suggest you do so... you may just find your new favorite sandwich!
Executive Chef Aran Essig, CEC, CCA
Information gathered from: LA Times Magazine, philippes.com
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