Jeff Mauro, cohost of The Kitchen and co-owner and executive chef of Pork & Mindy’s, the Chicago-based restaurant chain, is known for his sense of humor—but he’s deadly serious when it comes to sandwiches. Jeff, nicknamed the “Sandwich King” by Bobby Flay, has been upping his sammie game since grade school, when he would pack the ingredients—turkey, cheese, lettuce, and tomato—in separate bags for ultimate freshness. And the bread? It had to be wrapped in foil, because he could detect the plastic flavor of a sandwich bag. “I definitely stood out, but that dedication paved the way for my career,” says Jeff.
Like his dad, Jeff’s 10-year-old son, Lorenzo, has taken an early interest in food. “Cooking with Lo is one of my favorite things to do,” says Jeff. “We’ll plan out his lunches the night before school, and he handles a lot of the prep work for weekend breakfasts and dinners.”
Today the two are making the Triple Porker, a crazy-delicious sandwich that includes pork tenderloin, ham, and bacon. To save time, Jeff cooks the mustard-marinated tenderloin on a George Foreman grill (Jeff is an ambassador for the brand) while the bacon bakes in the oven.
"I love pork because it's so versatile,” says Jeff. “It can bring an intense, savory flavor to a dish. Or you can make it sweet by covering bacon with brown sugar and baking it until it's crispy. I call that 'pig candy'"
Recipe: Try Jeff's Triple Porker Sandwich
Lorenzo is on potato salad duty, peeling the sweet potatoes and measuring the other ingredients. Once assembled, the salad needs to chill for a bit, which also gives Jeff and Lorenzo time to chill.
Recipe: Try Jeff's Sweet Potato Salad
“Being in the kitchen is how we bond,” says Jeff. “And I definitely share some tricks of the trade with him, too.”