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Mike Isabella’s Sandwich Madness Scores Big for Charities

The edible tournament coincides with March Madness

The Adovado & Avocado is in the final Sandwich Madness match-up this month.
[G by Mike Isabella]
Tierney Plumb is the editor of Eater DC, covering all things food and drink around the nation's capital.

The numbers are in, and it appears that food writers are beating culinary all-stars in the Sandwich Madness tournament at G by Mike Isabella on 14th Street NW.

Coinciding with the 2017 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament, G is hosting the final round of its third Sandwich Madness series. Two D.C. journalists compete each month, with the winner determined by the number of sandwiches sold.

The third round between food journos is on pace to earn just under $6,000 for associated charities, besting the first series in 2015, which earned $4,167 overall, and the second which earned $4,643.

The first two series featured a bracket of professional chefs facing off, with two competitors facing off each month and the winner advancing to the next round. Each entrant represents a charity of their choosing, which gets $1 from each sandwich sold. But it's a winner-take-all competition, and at the end of each month the overall victor claims the entire pot for that group.

The third series, which kicked off last fall, switched up its contestant pool from local chefs to food journalists.

“We thought, why just do chefs — why not do editors and writers covering this industry?” Isabella said.

The sandwich composed by Jim Webster of The Washington Post crushed it right out of the gate, setting a sales record over a one-month period (657 sandwiches in October 2016).

Webster’s sandwich has “destroyed” every chef’s numbers, reports Isabella. The Adovado & Avocado contains spit-roasted pork in New Mexico red chile sauce, pickled jicama, roasted pepitas, avocado, cilantro, lime, and avocado.

Expect that sandwich and others to make an appearance this fall in Navy Yard. Isabella said he plans to resurrect four of the winning creations — two created by chefs, and two plucked from the food writing ranks — at Nationals Park during the upcoming baseball season. Isabella has a stacked plate these days; he’s also gearing up to open Spanish spot Arroz at the Marriott Marquis in a few weeks.

While meant to be “kitschy and fun,” Isabella said his kitchen works with writers to make sure their concoctions are not just edible but also appealing. (The writers obviously have the food puns covered; take The Notorious P.I.G. from Zagat’s Rina Rapuano.) Other tournament submissions, including offerings cooked by Eater’s Missy Frederick and DC Modern Luxury’s Nevin Martell, have even beat out Isabella-crafted creations on G’s regular menu.

“People come in to G to try these different people’s sandwiches, while my menu doesn’t change. We sell more sandwiches of the specialties,” Isabella said. “It’s been really solid raising a lot of money and awareness for different charities.”

The two duking it out this month are the Seoul Stopper sandwich from NBC4’s Eun Yang, featuring crispy fried chicken thigh, Korean radish salad, gochujang glaze, and kewpie mayo, with proceeds benefiting THEARC, and reigning champ, the Adovado & Avocado, which continues to rake in dough for The Mario Batalli Foundation.

Here are the results of the past two closed rounds:

  • Chef Jonah Kim, winner of the first tournament back in 2015, raised $2,564 for Share Our Strength.
  • Michael Santoro (now chef at Kingbird) won the second series, raising $2,666 for The Rottweiler Rescue Foundation.

G by Mike Isabella

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