Lamb/goat cheese combo aces sandwich contest

North African Lamb Sandwich with Chévre,  Harissa and Figs
North African Lamb Sandwich with Chévre, Harissa and Figs.

A Montréal bartender’s concoction of lamb with chévre, harissa and figs on ciabatta was judged the best of the best in ACE Bakery’s Canada’s Best Sandwich Contest that ended today with a sandwich showdown at Loblaws Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto.

Along with the national title, Jean Émond won a $10,000 prize and $10,000 donation towards his charity of choice, World Wildlife Fund Canada. 

“I really wasn’t expecting this, but I’m so excited my recipe has earned the title of Canada’s Best Sandwich!” said Émond. “I love being adventurous in the kitchen and it’s so rewarding to know my creativity is paying off.”

Émond developed the recipe through a step-by-step process starting with his chosen protein, lamb.  From there, he layered on various ingredients and spices to create the perfect balance of flavours. See the recipe below.

Émond tends bar at Cabaret la Tulipe in Montreal. His favourite cocktail to make is Gin Fizz.

Close to 1,000 recipes were submitted from across Canada. Four regional finalists faced off this morning, creating their sandwiches in front of a judging panel and live audience at Loblaws Maple Leaf Gardens.

After tasting each of the creations, Bob Blumer, host of Food Network Canada’s World’s Weirdest Restaurants, Julie Van Rosendaal, popular Calgary-based blogger behind, and Marcus Mariathas, ACE Bakery’s master baker, evaluated each recipe based on taste appeal, creativity, innovation and originality in order to select a winner.

The other three finalists were Ashley Seely from Rothesay, New Brunswick, Meghan Légère from Toronto, and, Linh Huynh from Calgary. Each finalist received $1,000 cash prize and $1,000 to donate towards their charity of choice.

One of North America’s leading artisan bakeries, ACE Bakery opened in 1993 in Toronto creating hand-made, European-style rustic breads.  The gentle shaping of each loaf, long fermentation periods, and a stone deck oven all work to create exceptionally flavourful bread with a pleasing texture and crisp crust. The breads contain no preservatives and are made with the finest ingredients. ACE Bakery’s baguettes and artisan breads are available at hundreds of restaurants, hotels, caterers, grocery and gourmet food shops across Canada, throughout the United States and the Caribbean.

ACE Bakery Canada’s Best Sandwich Contest

Winner: North African Lamb Sandwich with Harissa and Figs
Creator: Jean Émond
Region: Québec
Serving: Serves 4
The seductive flavours of Morocco mingle in this tender lamb sandwich with the spicy heat of harissa, and the sweet temptation of honey and figs.


12 oz. (340 g) lamb tenderloin, cut into thin strips, 3 to 4 inches (7.6 to 10 cm) long
4 ACE Bakery Ciabatta Buns, split

Lamb Marinade

2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp. (5 mL) honey
1 Tbsp. (15 mL) olive oil
1 tsp. (5 mL) harissa paste
1 tsp. (5 mL) kosher salt
½ tsp. (2.5 mL) ras el hanout
½ tsp. (2.5 mL) cumin seeds
½ tsp. (2.5 mL) freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. (30 mL) pine nuts
¼ cup (60 mL) chopped Italian parsley

Spicy Mayo

¼ cup (60 mL) mayonnaise
1 clove minced garlic
1 tsp. (5 mL) honey
1 tsp. (5 mL) harissa paste
pinch ras el hanout

Fig and Goat Cheese Salad

2 fresh figs, diced
2 oz. (56 g) soft goat cheese, crumbled
1 tsp. (5 mL) honey
1 tsp. (5 mL) olive oil
¼ tsp. (1.25 mL) cumin powder
¼ tsp. (1.25 mL) cumin seeds
¼ tsp. (1.25 mL) ras el hanout
6 fresh mint leaves, julienned
1 cup (240 mL) baby arugula


In a large bowl, mix together all the marinade ingredients except the pine nuts and parsley. Add the lamb strips and marinate in the refrigerator for 1 hour to allow the flavours to mingle. Stir fry the lamb in a large wok or a skillet over medium heat until just cooked through, about 3 or 4 minutes. Stir in the pine nuts and parsley and toss to combine. To prepare the Spicy Mayo, combine all the ingredients together in a small bowl. Prepare the Fig and Goat Cheese Salad by gently tossing all the ingredients together in a small bowl until lightly coated. Add the mint and the arugula at the last moment. To assemble the sandwiches, lightly grill the ACE Bakery Ciabatta buns until warm and toasty. Spread the cut sides of each bun with some of the Spicy Mayo. On the bottom bun lay some of the seasoned lamb mixture and drizzle with some of the jus. Finish with the Fig and Goat Cheese Salad and the top bun.