This week in Sandwiches of Ergo Depot I had the opportunity to speak with Stafford Turnage our Staff Accountant. Stafford is just like you and me, he loves sandwiches. His contribution is Tilt’s ‘Free Bird.’ I hope you enjoy this interview as much as he enjoys that sandwich.
Nate B: “On a scale of 1-10, how do you feel about sandwiches?”
Stafford T: “11”
ST: “I am obsessed with sandwiches. I think Portland has the best sandwiches around. I go all over town trying them. I have a few top faves at the moment, but discovering new sandwiches that blow my mind, that is a huge win in my life.”
NB: “Have you ever had a cheesesteak from Philadelphia?”
ST: “I have not. Something I eagerly look forward to. I’ve actually never experienced an East Coast sandwich. I’ve been a West Coaster for life.”
NB: “I only ask because, I believe in Portland sandwiches. I live by them. But then, what choice do I have?
“If I were as rich as Donald Trump, I would hop on my solid gold airplane and tell my personal pilot ‘Go to Philadelphia right now!’ because July of 1997 I ate a Cheesesteak almost every day for the month I was in Philadelphia and I long for the taste of another.”
ST: “My fiance is from Miami, so I have had some absolutely amazing Cubano’s while visiting over the years.”
NB: “I have been warned that Florida is a place to avoid but I’m like “Don’t tell me what to do! They have killer Cubanos!" And so, one of these days, I’d like to go to Florida.”
ST: *blank stare*
NB: “I’m serious.”
ST: “I’m going back in two weeks. I’m looking forward to the Cubanos.”
NB: “We all need that little something to look forward to. Mine is the Cheesesteak. And yes, while so many (SO MANY!!!) people will be horrified (HORRIFIED!!!) to hear me say there’s no good Cheesesteaks here in Portland, I’m like “You don’t know what you’re talking about!” If I get a lousy Cheesesteak, I want to blame all of Philadelphia. The whole city. Not just one jerk who claims he’s from Philadelphia but you can tell he isn’t because he can’t even make a good Cheesesteak.
“I dunno. Maybe the Portland cheesteakeries are manned by authentic Philadelphians. But they certainly weren’t sandwich-people back in Philadelphia. Dentists, maybe. Or janitors. But not sandwich-people.
“Just because you’re from Philadelphia doesn’t mean you know sandwiches. I’m thinking of having that made into a bumper sticker.”
NB: “What if I were to ask, "What was the best sandwich you’ve ever had here at Ergo Depot?"”
“First thing that comes to mind.”
NB: “I feel as if too much time has already passed.”
ST: “I’m thinking! I’d split it exactly even with the Randy from Olympia Provisions and the Free Bird at Tilt.”
NB: “Cage match: your two sandwiches enter the ring. No holds barred. It’s a dirty, nnnnnnasty fight. Only one sandwich leaves the ring...it’s…”
ST: “Free Bird. Free Bird all the way. I love that sandwich.”
NB: “We have our horse. Or, ‘Bird, as it were.”
NB: “Now that we’ve established your sandwich, let’s table that for just a moment.
“First, you, the man. Who are you? What do you do here at Ergo Depot? How long have you been here? Have you been in the same job the whole time?”
ST: “I am Stafford Turnage, but typically go by an alias not many know here. We’ll leave it at that.
“I am a Staff Accountant at Ergo Depot. I have been here just under 2 years and migrated from the Customer Service department over a year ago. It’s been super awesome, the whole ride so far.”
NB: “Your alias. Is that ‘Staff Infection?’ Now is your chance to clear up any misunderstanding about your alias.”
ST: “Certainly not that alias. But I will not go any further.”
NB: “Staff Infection it is then.”
NB: “The sandwich, itself:
“Please describe the actual sandwich. Why is it memorable?”
Staff Infection: “For me, the perfect sandwich has a perfect texture, topping ratio, and appearance, in addition to its deliciousness. The Free Bird surely comes in for the win on this.
“The chicken is first; it’s big, but always pounded out to be a manageable shape (to hold toppings well) and is cooked to absolute perfection. It is juicy and tender inside with the perfect amount of fried crisp on the outside.
“It is always hot and perfect, every order.
“Then comes the bacon.
“Their bacon isn’t cooked ultra crispy so it’s not like eating bacon dust, but also, it’s not so tender that it pulls everything out with it on the first bite. You get a hearty portion of a couple thick cuts and a bite of bacon is included in every bite. It compliments the full experience of the chicken oh-so perfectly!
“Then comes the jalapeno slaw. This slaw is exactly the right amount of tangy, crunchy, and sweet, with just a slight touch of heat from the jalapeno. It’s not overpowering enough so that it takes away from the bacon and chicken, but just the right amount of flavor to give the pallet an explosion of awesomeness.
“Lastly, the bun is lightly oiled and toasted on the grill and smothered with Tilt’s delicious bacon honey mustard to finish it off. This combination is the right amount of everything for me. Each bite breaks perfectly to set you up for the next one and after each Free Bird I eat I’m left both satisfied and full, but eager to treat myself to another.
“I recommend washing it down with a Fort George Vortex IPA that Tilt has on tap. Fair warning: this is not a light meal in the slightest. I think some people might say it’s messy. That’s fair. Tilt isn’t necessarily a place I’d send someone first, but that sandwich...my goodness. Gets me so good.”
NB: “Sometimes it’s not right to suggest the best sandwich, from the get go. People are used to lousy sandwiches. Like a hot bath, a sandwich can be a transformative experience. But also like a hot bath, if you’re not warmed up, sliding into a hot bath can feel like taking a dip in a deep fryer.
“This happens all too often. An amazing sandwich turns out to be an awful experience simply because the groundwork hadn’t been set to accept it. To let it happen.”
NB: “Did your sandwich inspire any memories?”
SI: “Not really. All about the moment for me. Embracing that there’s something delicious I get to eat.”
NB: “Ah yes, a fleeting glimpse of perfection before life returns to normal? Sometimes, the perfect sandwich is a glimpse of the Great White Buffalo. With that in mind: Would you order the sandwich again, to possibly recreate the experience? Or, would you never order the sandwich again because perfection like that could never be replicated, and so it’s best to just leave perfection sealed in amber where nobody can screw it up by forgetting the mayonnaise?”
SI: “Oh I’m going back for much much more. Maybe it won’t be quite as memorable as the first, maybe it’ll be a sloppy day, but all in all the feeling was real and that feeling needs to be recreated some way or another. For me, that’s going back and doing it again without changing up a damn thing. Ultimately it’s gonna be amazing, even if there’s a couple speed bumps.”
NB: “Tell me about condiments. Do you accept the sandwich as they hand it over? Or do you, like me, feel naked without a selections of condiments on hand?”
SI: “Condiments really depend on the establishment itself in my opinion. For example, Tilt has such an amazing bacon honey mustard that I just can’t go without it. Luckily the Free Bird comes with it. But, if it didn’t, SURELY I would ask for it.
“That said, I accept the sandwich as they hand it over. It is built just right.”
NB: “Bacon, honey and mustard are all fantastic on their own. Together I imagine it must really rock that sandwich.
“Isn’t Bacon Honey Mustard a band? Like techno-synth something. They keep playing Holocene.
“They were cool before they sold out.
“I like their early stuff way better.
SI: “I worshipped that band for a given week, but then saw them a Holocene every night and put it behind me.”
NB: “What if you haven’t eaten all day, and this guy was the only one who could give you your sandwich?
“What would you do?”
SI: “Oh gosh. Me and this guy are very familiar with each other. I see him every morning. For some reason or another, I really trust this guy and I would like to get to know him over a Free Bird. So, I would gladly accept and be satisfied with it.”
NB: “I am surprised by your response. This guy seems like someone you would prefer to fight.”
SI: “I’m a lover, fighting isn’t in my blood. If there are two things I love more than a delicious sandwich it’s having a refreshing IPA to wash it down and good company to enjoy it with. This guy seems like he could be some ok company… maybe not the best.”
NB: “If your sandwich was a historical figure, who would they be? Please explain your answer in 140 characters or less.”
SI: “My sandwich would be Galileo. I don’t believe an explanation is needed.”
NB: “Who’s Galileo?”
SI: “The physicist and astronomer who blew up the scientific world!”
*Googles Galileo. Reads Galileo’s Wikipedia page.*
“Your sandwich sounds, out of this world.”
SI: “Exactly. Out of this world and smarter than we could ever imagine. Taste buds don’t know what in the world is going on.”
NB: “One of my favorite Galileo quotes: 'The sun, with all those planets revolving around it and dependent on it, can still ripen a bunch of grapes as if it had nothing else in the universe to do.' It is safe to say, the sun also made your Sandwich. So, if, we are the stuff of stars, the sun, the universe, this sandwich is literally the cumulative equivalent of the heavens?”
SI: “Yes, this sandwich is a part of life and of all creation.”
NB: “Sandwiches will never be the same.”
Think of that, when you’re squaring off with your next sandwich.