Kelly Pratt loves food. She likes sandwiches, too. So when she was inspired by her professors at the Chicago Portfolio School to create a side project, it seemed inevitable that she would end up doing something with food. So she set off to create a unique sandwich for all 50 states, to reflect their culture and traditions, and share the recipes of her success online.
The project, dubbed “Stately Sandwiches” is simple: create a sandwich for each state. Her website already lists 12 states, including California, Texas, Illinois and New York. She even names each sandwich ever so affectionately.
We caught up with Pratt to ask her about her project, her favorite Stately Sandwich so far and how she’s using social media to help share her project.
How did this project start?
I come from really great teachers and mentors in Chicago. I have two teachers who really helped me with this: Brandon Knowlden and David Sieren, who is part of the Post Family. They’re really awesome; [they're] super inspiring because they all have other jobs but when they have free time they have a studio out in Chicago where they just get together and make stuff. They have always given us the best advice for our careers. They promote a side project, and I really wanted do to something with food, because I’ve just always really liked food. I wanted to work with my design skills a little bit. I’ve looked at things in new light and it’s just been really fun.
How do you determine what a sandwich from a particular state will look like?
There are a couple of sites on the Internet and books that are a good starting point. Once I cross-reference them, I start searching the Internet for the ingredients for the sandwich. It’s just interesting. Some states are harder. Fluffernutters were invented in Massachusetts; that’s why I choose the Fluffernutters for that state. I have not made one for Washington yet, but I am guessing it will be something involving salmon. The way that I make them is I eat them with friends or people who I have a connection with from the state.
My mom is an amazing cook. She and I always have fun trying out new recipes and making family favorites together. Since my sister and I moved to Chicago we don't see our parents as often, especially when you consider the fact that I used to work with them every day. I was planning to make a sandwich over the weekend when I realized it was Mother's Day and thought it would be perfect to make the sandwich from my mom's home state [Minnesota]!
My sister, Colleen, my boyfriend, Kyle, and I prepared the sandwiches with a check-in via FaceTime from Mom to be sure everything was looking authentic. Then we sat down at the table, had a Mother's Day cheers and my mom took the first virtual bite! My parents are huge supporters and it was really special to be able to include them in my project even though they aren't in Chicago.
How are you using social media to help bring attention to your project?
When I make all the sandwiches, I think it’s really fun to get people involved. I take Instagrams photos of the process. It’s definitely time consuming to respond to people, but its fun. I have chef in Delaware who teaches a cooking class who did some trial runs on the Delaware sandwich, via Skype.
I think my whole point behind this is showing how food connects people. It really has taken off. I always like when I tweet at people and they tweet back.
You’ve made 12 sandwiches so far, which one is your favorite?
The California sandwich is something I normally make for myself daily, but I have to say that the brisket sandwich was pretty awesome. The homemade BBQ sauce was great. There have been no sandwiches which I’ve made that I have not liked so far; I am not a picky eater, but I think the Texas may have to take number one. A guy who came over said it was better than his mom’s.