PROFILE: Midtown Lunch’er “Sisha Ortuzar” Plus ‘wichcraft Book Giveaway

Every Tuesday I turn over the site to a different Midtown Lunch’er for his or her recommendations for the best lunch in Midtown. This week, I’m pretty excited to welcome Sisha Ortuzar, the cofounder of ‘wichcraft, which has many Midtown locations. Whether or not you love or hate ‘wichcraft, Sisha is an amazing chef who has cooked in some of ML’s favorite cities- including Chile, New Orleans, and of course NYC (at Grammercy Tavern). And he co-wrote the brand new ‘wichcraft book (along with Tom Collichio). We actually have 5 copies to give away at the bottom of the profile.

Name: Sisha

Age: 36

Occupation: Restaurant owner, so it depends on the day (sometimes chef, sometimes designer, sometimes architect, sometimes marketer, sometimes dishwasher, etc.)

Where in Midtown do you Work?: ‘wichcraft (several locations in Manhattan, a lot of them in Midtown)

Favorite Kind of Food: I like almost everything; it really depends on the day. The food that I find most interesting tends to be spicy (Szechuanese, Korean, Indian) but I also like simple and straight forward food. One of my favorite things to eat is toast with butter.

Least Favorite Kind of Food: Puerto Rican food. It just seems very bland and one-note to me.

Favorite Place(s) to Eat Lunch in Midtown: Bar Zippeto (on 6th btw. 56+57th) for espresso. The halal meat cart on 6th Ave. and 49th for meat on a stick. A cheeseburger from the Burger Joint at the Parker Meridien (on 56th btw. 6+7th), and Yushi (on 47th btw. Park+Lex) for a healthy snack.

“Go-To” Lunch Place You and Your Coworkers Eat at Too Often? ‘wichcraft. It’s kind of convenient.

If you could work anywhere (just because of the lunch) where would it be and why? Singapore. Those hawker food centers look really good.

Is there anything you’d like to ask the Midtown Lunch readers? How can ‘wichcraft make you happier? (I know I’m setting myself up for abuse with this one.)

Well, unlike previous lunchers, at least he knows he’s in for some abuse! Alright… so here is how you win your own copy of the new ‘wichcraft book by Tom Colicchio and Sisha Ortuzar. Just comment below… a ‘wichcraft suggestion, or whatever, and you’re entered to win. 5 winners will be drawn at random on Friday (4/17) at Noon. Please be sure to include your email address so we can contact you if you win. (Don’t worry, it won’t show up on the site.)

I’ll start… make the sandwiches cheaper and/or larger! That way us fat guys won’t have to resort to “menu strategies” like this one.

And as always if you want to be next week’s Profiled: Midtown Lunch’er (or know somebody you’d like to nominate), email me at zach@midtownlunch.com.

96 Comments

  • ‘Wichcraft used to have a hot steak sandwich up until a year or so ago. Even though the store’s overpriced, I usually had it once a week and then suddenly they discontinued it… That was also the last day I set foot in ‘wichcraft.

    Bring that sandwich back!!

  • I think ‘wichcraft would be better if I got one of these free books.
    But barring that, I have to agree with the cheaper prices comments.

  • Ditto on an east 50′s location.

    Price, price, price. Especially for the smetimes-dainty sandwich-size. I did love the BLT I had there (when it was available)…mmm.

  • Honestly, I don’t even care about the price. I’d need two of your sandwiches to even make me remotely full.

  • I agree- I’d love to see a midtown location in the east 50′s!
    56th and 5th is a good block :)

  • Man, I never win at these giveaways. Anyways, I agree with all the above.

    Either make a discounted combo: soup/sandwich or sandiwich/chips, drink/ sandwich. or free cookie… or make the sandwiches bigger.

  • I hope your restaurant doesn’t become the victim of some wilding on the day of the parade. If you don’t love Pernil, you don’t love America..

  • Make the sandwiches bigger – or lower the cost? Also more desserts never hurts!

  • I’d buy an over-priced, middle-of-the-road wichcraft sandwich if the owner wasn’t racist. :)

  • Cosi used to (or still does?) run a coupon in AM New York every few weeks offering $2 off a sandwich, which admittedly still left their sandwiches around $7, but at least they didn’t feel like a total rip-off. A deal like that would go a long way to making ‘wichcraft seem user-friendly. Oh, and Puerto Rican food is “one-note”!?

  • A couple more rather inexpensive side offerings, even just downsized versions of the full-sized salads, or i’d have to second a soup/salad/sandwich combo, and an east 50′s location…

  • Yeah a once a month coupon would be nice, but I guess you guys get plenty of customers and $$ from tourists alone that what we say doesn’t matter.

  • How about adding a peking duck-esque sandwich? :)

  • The soups def. come off as an afterthought. They could be more complex.

  • Wow. Puerto Rican food is bland? Maybe you just haven’t eaten good Puerto Rican food. I find some of the sandwiches at ‘wichcraft to sound better than they taste. portions are small and there isn’t anything reasonably priced that fills you up. We have a saying in my business, “fast, good or cheap” You can have any two but not all. ‘wichcraft is only fast off hours/ it’s mostly good/ but it aint cheap. So you barely pass the test.

  • All right… you did set yourself up for this one. I actually don’t have an issue with the price or the size. You guys use quality ingredients, and I don’t get the whole concept of stuffing your face until you’re in a food coma. But I have had issues with the service at the Bryant Park kiosk. The most egregious one consisted of having me wait over 20 minutes (once I got to the front of the line) for a hot sandwich. Clearly, your guys saw me waiting and waiting there, but never said anything. Asked them where my sandwich was as I ordered a long time ago. Guy looked around and then looked up and found it on top of a ledge. Just popped it into a bag, never apologized and handed it to me. The sandwich was cold, and I have never waited so long for such a disappointing meal. I was trying not to be pushy and just tried to be patient. They clearly didn’t call my name as I was hanging around there the entire time. And if you see somebody just hanging around there (and these guys weren’t even doing much … it wasn’t prime lunchtime), train them so that they ask a customer if they need anything. Service is a big deal for a lot of people, especially when you’re paying Wichcraft prices.

  • have just a couple of constructive suggestions: to me, one of your big differentiators is your quality ingredients — can tell that a lot of thought went into selecting your purveyors and great that you take the time to even make certain ingredients, like the mayo. while you have very inventive sandwich combinations (several of which i am a fan of), i would like to be able to build my own sandwich (pick the bread, meat, condiments, etc etc). And build them generously. My second suggestion echoes that of others — make these sandwiches bigger. Give ‘em something to talk about. Carnegie’s monster sandwiches are $16-18 but you don’t see people complaining about them…in fact, it’s a talking point for people how ridiculously big they are. I’m not saying to do anything like that. But unfortunately, at the current prices, ‘Wichcraft sandwiches are set up to underdeliver and underwhelm despite the great combinations of flavors and tastes. In my mind, you have to do something to overdeliver to people and give them a product that leaves them more than satisfied, especially in these tough economic times.

  • have recession-friendly sandwiches with recession-friendly prices. Use up-and-coming ingredients. Give out the book with every sandwich.

  • Make some Crostini’s. Those are toasted pieces of bread with topping on them. For instance you can have one with ricotta and sundried tomato, or goat cheese and fig, etc…You can sell them as a set of 3 and this presents a lite lunch.

  • I would agree that variety is the spice of life and having such a fixed menu tends to ward off adventure seekers. I usually only order an item for the second time if it blew my mind, and none at the ‘craft have done that for me yet. I am a big fan of the meatloaf sandwich, but couldn’t even finish the sardine one. I’m not saying it was “bad” because I’ve read a number of accolades for it, but it was easily one of my least favorite lunches I’ve had in the area. But I can still appreciate the “different-ness” (for lack of a better word) of the effort.

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