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Thursday, July 16, 2015


Chef Michelle Bernstein shares her out-of-this-world club sandwich recipe that you'll find at the Thompson Miami Beach hotel on the lunch menu of the hotel's Seagrape Restaurant (and on its room-service menu).
After spending a good portion of my career as an editor of several inflight magazines, including Pan Am Clipper, United Airlines Mainliner, Delta Sky and PSA California magazine, I know a terrific inflight publication when I read one.

Last year, while returning from London via British Airways, I checked the seat pocket and discovered “The Club” magazine.  Since my San Diego/London round trip, BA has been kind enough to extend a media courtesy to Pillar to Post by sending me a copy of The Club each month.

In my humble opinion, The Club is perhaps the best travel magazine around.  Yes, it is an external public relations organ for a rather famous airline, but as I mentioned before I recognize solid travel journalism when I read it.  Bravo, British Airways.

Thanks, to The Club, I’ve become an aficionado of the club sandwich.  Each month, British Airways magazine staff salutes a well-known chef from one of the destination it serves.  The on going club sandwich recipe series asks the top chef to contribute a club sandwich recipe.

In its May, 2015 edition, staffers of the monthly inflight magazine asked chef Michelle Bernstein for her thoughts on the club sandwich and for her personal recipe.  She is the chef at the new Thompson Miami Beach hotel.  Her domain is Seagrape, a restaurant she describes a Floridian brasserie.

Thanks, BA and Michele Bernstein for sharing another delicious and intoxicating club sandwich recipe.

Michelle Bernstein's Club Sandwich as seen on the pages of British Airways "The Club" inflight magazine.

The Skinny
Q.  You list your club sandwich on lunch and room service menu’s at the Thompson
Hotel, where else in the world makes a solid club sandwich?
A. The most memorable Club Sandwich I’ve ever tasted was at The Ritz-Carlton in Istanbul. It was delicious, comforting and reliable – everything a well-made Club Sandwich should be.

Q. What is so appealing about the club sandwich?
A.  The dish is great for people weary of trying new and different foods when abroad, or those in need of something quick and simple.

Q. What’s your bottom line secret to a well-made club sandwich?
A. The toasted bread is critical. If the bread is bad, it affects the whole sandwich. You can go as crazy as you like with ingredients, but the original principle needs to stay the same.


Ingredients (makes one sandwich)

8oz chicken

Extra-virgin olive oil

4oz tarragon aioli

5 slices applewood-smoked bacon, cooked crispy

3 slices whole-grain bread

1 heirloom tomato, sliced ¼ inch thick

3 butter lettuce leaves

2 slices cave-aged cheddar

For the lemon tarragon aioli

10 garlic cloves, peeled, centre germ removed

1 tsp salt

4 large egg yolks

6 tbsp water

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

2 tsp Dijon mustard

2 cups light, fruity olive oil

2 tbsp tarragon, freshly chopped

Michelle’s Floridian twist on the classic aioli spread:

To make the aioli:

1. Mash garlic and salt into a paste.

2. Whisk egg yolks, six tablespoons water, lemon juice and mustard in medium metal bowl. Whisk into the garlic mixture.

3. Set a bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water – do not allow the bottom of the bowl to touch the water – and whisk constantly until the mixture thickens. Will take about 10 minutes in total.

4. Remove bowl from over the water. Cool mixture to room temperature, whisking occasionally, for about 15 minutes.

5. Gradually whisk oil into the yolk mixture in a very thin, slow stream; continue whisking until the aioli is thick.

6. Fold in the chopped tarragon, then season to taste with pepper and more salt, if desired (can be prepared two days ahead). Cover and refrigerate.


1. Rub the chicken with olive oil, sea salt and pepper. Marinate for two hours. Roast in the oven for one hour, until cooked through.

2. Allow to cool, then pull off the meat.

3. Combine 8oz chicken with 2oz tarragon aioli, season with salt and pepper.

4. Toast three slices of grainy bread.

5. Lightly spread aioli on one side of the two outer pieces.

6. Begin building the sandwich by taking the bottom slice of bread and layering with chicken, two slices bacon, one slice cave-aged cheddar, two slices seasoned tomato and one leaf butter lettuce. Top with bread and repeat.

7. Skewer the sandwich with four bamboo skewers. Cut the sandwich into four even squares.

8. Serve with salted French fries.

More from Michelle’s website:
There is a beautiful symmetry at work inside the Seagrape at Thompson Miami Beach. Both the restaurant and its botanical namesake find their roots along the coasts of southern Florida and the Caribbean—and that is precisely where the Miami native and James Beard Foundation Award winning Chef Michelle Bernstein draws her inspiration. Conjuring the communal from classic brasserie style, she has created the Floridian brasserie that is Seagrape.

Focusing on local bounty sourced by land and by sea, she enlists a handful of nearby farmers to do her bidding in the garden. Farm-fresh vegetables, natural reductions and eclectic sauces complement a selection of pedigreed steaks and fresh seafood. Working in partnership with her husband, David Martinez, and nightlife impresarios Karim Masri and Nicola Siervo, Chef Bernstein redefined the style of old Miami for a new generation.
View of the Atlantic Ocean from one of the terraces at the Thompson Miami Beach Hotel.
Seagrape Restaurant at the Thompson Hotel, Miami Beach

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