Students face-off in panini-making contest

By Allison Hamburger

In a battle of grilling panini, Chase Basich ’11 faced Gabe Benjamin ’11 in the quad today to determine once and for all who can makes the best grilled sandwich.

Benjamin was named the winner with 54-26 votes.

The Panini-Off, as it has been dubbed, required the competitors to make paninis for other students during fifth through seventh period. The tasters then cast their vote by placing their used plate in the grocery bag next to their favorite panini chef. Each competitor made a both a turkey and a vegetarian panini.

The two students have discussed the possibility of a panini-making competition for a while. Over the summer, Basich ate a panini that Benjamin made.

“He said, ‘One time I should make you a panini because I make a good panini’ and we’ve been talking back and forth all year, ” Benjamin said. “I finally said, ‘Chase let’s do it, let’s see who makes a better panini.’”

Basich said that Benjamin’s panini was very well-made, so he was a bit nervous for what the Panini-Off would bring. Benjamin has never tasted a Basich panini.

“Chase has been talking smack all year about how he grills a mean panini, but I don’t know, I’ve never tasted one of his panini so I don’t know exactly what I’m up against but I think I also grill a mean panini so I’m pretty confident,” Benjamin said.

Both competitors started making panini within the past year or two and received panini makers as gifts.

“I used to have a moderate obsession with paninis but I didn’t make them myself,” Basich said. “I used to make real sandwiches but not with a panini maker but with whatever surface I had available.”

Benjamin said that celebrity chef Tom Colicchio has influenced his interest, drawing inspiration from Colicchio’s cookbook “Wichcraft.”

The Panini-Off victor gained glory more than anything else, Benjamin said.

“It will be very friendly, I don’t think it will be too competitive,” Basich said before the competition. “Anyone who wants to can stop by and get a bite, well two bites, by necessity.”