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FoodHow CafeHailee Makes Beach Sandwiches — Hailee Catalano Beach Sandwich

How CafeHailee Makes Beach Sandwiches — Hailee Catalano Beach Sandwich

Hailee Catalano doesn’t come from a long line of mayo-spreading, Cape Cod chip-packing, sand-and-salt-water enthusiasts: She’s from Chicago, scared of sharks, and decidedly out on swimming. Yet, despite her coastless roots, Hailee has the ideal mindset for someone who’s become the internet’s undisputed beach sandwich authority.

“The only reason I like going to the beach is to bring food to the beach,” she told me.

Surely, many of Hailee’s hundreds of thousands of followers would forgo ocean time to make (and pack) a turkey and provolone sub like this, a footlong pesto, mortadella, and artichoke sandwich like this, or a spicy, crunchy chicken caesar wrap this way.

The thing is—we can. Like everything else she makes, Hailee’s beach-destined creations marry accessibility and aspirational flavor, embodying the best possible version of a sandwich us culinary mortals could actually pull off.

This is especially true, since Hailee kindly shared with us the techniques and thought processes behind her beloved beach sandwiches.

The Right Bread

Hailee subscribes to the widely held belief that bread is the most important part of a sandwich. “Bad bread could ruin the whole thing. If you have bad bread, [the sandwich] is just not going to be—everything will fall apart,” she told me.

To avoid ruining her sandwich from the get, Hailee first ensures she’s choosing the appropriate bread style for her desired fillings. “If it’s a sub, I like the bread to have a thin crust and be fluffy on the inside—so it kind of compacts. That way it becomes one thing, rather than bread and fillings and then more bread.”

Then, she considers bread quality, which Hailee insists you can find from suppliers of varying size and scale. “If you don’t know where to get the right bread, go somewhere where you love a sub and ask if they’ll sell you the bread,” she says. For Hailee that translates to regularly sourcing bread from the grocery store chain, Wegman’s, as well as smaller, local purveyors like Frank’s in Asbury Park and Nick & Son’s in Spring Lake.

“Substantial Layers Of Thinly Sliced Items”

For Hailee, the most delicious subs possess a common denominator. “The best sandwiches have substantial layers of thinly sliced items,” she says. To build those layers with something like fennel, cucumbers, or onions, Hailee employs a mandolin to create sliced veggies that are both identical and paper thin. “The thinner the better,” she says, “especially for onions.”

Wrap It Up

Unlike the beach sandwiches of my youth, Hailee’s creations are not hastily stuffed into an-always-too-small ziploc bag upon completion. Instead, they’re wrapped. Instead, they’re wrapped, ideally in the pro’s medium, “Butcher paper is the best—like what they have at the sub shops. It’s just so nice and you don’t have to tape it or anything.”

There are two things Hailee never wants surrounding her beach sandwich. One, is waxed paper. “It’s not good. It doesn’t stay together—I wouldn’t recommend it,” she told me. The other? A cooler. “I’m going to eat the sandwich when I get there,” Hailee, “I’m just going to be too excited.”

Proof Of Concept

If you’d like to employ Hailee’s techniques through recipe, look no further than Nea’s new Beach BLT. This remixed summer classic entrusts Hailee tenets—like choosing homemade sourdough and wrapping in parchment paper—and the final product is better for it. Find the recipe here.

What’s your favorite beach sandwich? Let us know in the comments below!


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