With the launch of its signature chicken sandwich, Panera Bread creates a new menu platform

Photo courtesy of Panera Bread

Behind the Menu logoPanera Bread is launching a Chef’s Chicken Sandwich on March 30, creating a new menu platform that expands its hearty and hearty options.

The rapid launch of flatbread pizzas in 2020 and hot cereal bowls in 2019 resonated very strongly with consumers, said Eduardo Luz, director of brand and concept at Panera. Demand was high to add more items that lean toward dinner — a part of the day that has increased for the chain during the pandemic.

That’s the intention of the new chicken sandwich.

It’s “very differentiated” from those that have gained popularity in the QSR segment, Luz said. “Our chef has created two versions of the sandwich – a signature take and a spicy take – that are true to Panera’s standards for clean ingredients and animal welfare, while being delicious and better for you,” he said. he declares.

Both versions start with a 4.25-ounce chicken breast tenderloin, sourced from chickens raised without antibiotics and cruelty-free. The tenderloin is marinated in a savory seasoned broth, then pan-fried and cooked sous vide to keep it tender, flavorful and juicy.

The two takes are both layered on Panera’s lightly sweetened buttery brioche, a medium that is a signature for the bakery chain, and topped with fresh sprouts. But here, the constructions separate.

The signature sandwich is slathered in an aioli sauce, made with olive oil, garlic and spices to a personal recipe from the chef’s portfolio at Panera. Parmesan chips are added on top for extra flavor and crunch.

The spicy version is covered in Buffalo sauce, a mixture of cayenne pepper, roasted garlic, honey and molasses. Crispy spicy pickle chips round out the build with a bold pop of flavor and crunch.

Both will sell for around $10, depending on location, and can be ordered as part of Panera’s Pick Two menu, along with soup or salad.

“R&D took a long time as we worked to differentiate the chicken sandwich,” Luz said. “We don’t fry anything in our stores and the chef’s chicken sandwich is not breaded or fried, which makes it unique and healthier. Like everything else at Panera, it’s made to order.

The 4.25-ounce chicken breast tenderloin is a new SKU for the chain, but “we plan to use it in other dishes,” Luz said. “Everything else is new too: the chef’s aioli, buffalo sauce and spicy pickles. But these ingredients can be cross-used in other applications.

The vacuum equipment was already present in the stores but had to be adapted to this new use by training the staff.

Panera's new packaging

Another novelty is the packaging. “We have developed a new package for off-site sandwich orders,” Luz said. “It opens like a gift box and the sandwich comes out wrapped in thermal paper. The sealed box and the paper have been designed to hold the temperature well.

One of the goals of the development process was to make the sandwich portable so it could be eaten with one hand, he added. The box can also be opened with one hand, a convenience for those who drive or work while seated at a desk.

Both chicken sandwiches are listed in a special new menu section dedicated to this category. “They will be prominently on the permanent menu, not as LTOs,” Luz said.

And in the future, there will be more innovation on the chicken sandwich platform, he added.

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