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new tofu based sandwiches at Jimmy Johns

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
I am searching for input and feedback from the vegetarian community. I am the founder of Jimmy Johns and I have been researching tofu based turkey flavored products as well as smokey flavored tempeh. I have come up with some spectacular new sandwiches based on these products. Im curious to know if you would feel there is a need for very good tasting , superior quality tofu based sandwiches in the market place. Any and all feedback is appreciated. thank you, Jimmy John
post #2 of 13
HI Jimmy John. Welcome to Cheftalk! I'm moving this to a more general forum. Maybe it'll get more views.
post #3 of 13
I feel that in this consumer oriented organic and health food enviorment that is the in thing today, that it would be welcomed. Good luck with your trials.
post #4 of 13
I think there's a need but I don't think it has to be tofu. Vegetarian does not have to be tofu.
post #5 of 13
I adore tofu and am not a vegetarian. Tempeh isn't my favorite thing, but it's not half-bad.

I would only eat turkey-flavored tofu if it were free or someone paid me. Anything "turkey-flavored" needs one heck of an excuse for existence. I don't know about "need," but "very good tasting, superior quality tofu based sandwiches" sound delicious. The problem is that good-tasting, superior quality tofu is made fresh on the day, from high-quality ingredients. Good luck with that one.

Smokey-flavored tempeh does not sound appealing, though if it were actually smoked could well be decent. Again, "smokey-flavored" needs a good excuse.

I suppose this isn't terribly helpful, but my vote is this: if you want to sell tofu, don't sell it as fake almost-meat for vegetarians and people with other freako problems. You might as well post a sign, "we know it's yucky, but honestly, you can't tell!" Sell good tofu as good tofu, and take the time and trouble to ensure that (a) it is good tofu, which is exceedingly rare in the U.S., (b) it's served with ingredients of equal quality and freshness, and (c) it's marketed as precisely what it is, unashamed.
post #6 of 13
Plus I don't know why it needs to be "flavored" tofu.
post #7 of 13
I was not a big tofu eater in Canada, but since I've moved to Japan, I eat tofu almost on a daily basis. Tofu for tofu, tofu for the taste of fresh tofu. Deep fried tofu is delicious, that could be a pretty good base for a sandwich.

I don't vote for turkey flavored tofu.
post #8 of 13
How about a vietnamese type Banh Mi sandwich? It's tasty and a perfect match for quality tofu. Coriander, pickled carrots, daikon, hot peppers, etc.
post #9 of 13
Well assuming this is a legit post.....

The answer is no. I think it will be a loss product. Maybe in some stores it will do ok, but most people are really not that interested in a tofu sandwich, at least not here in the Chicago area.

When I head to a successful chain I don't see tofu, well anywhere. I don't go to Portillos to get a tofu dog, I don't go to Pompii for tofu pizza, in fact the only place I see tofu would be Asian themed establishments.

And I LIKE tofu.

Now JJ's has really grown on me lately. I go to the store in Oaklawn and in South Naperville (or that might be North Plainfield). Both stores, an hour appart, have a very good FAST staff, and seem friendly. The food is good and since I'm watching my weight I get the Vito.

Also the new website design with the calorie builder is just great.

So while maybe the trendy part of tofu you can sell for brand awareness, I wouldn't expect to sell a lot.
post #10 of 13
There are some very good soy-based vegetarian products on the market today. Neither I nor HubbyDearest is vegetarian, however we both enjoy the Chik-N-Patties and Vegetarian sausage pattie by Morning Star. My neighbor,87 yrs young, is vegetarian. She turned us on to these foods. Well, anyway. Yes, there is a niche for the types of foods you are asking about. All are tasty, if prepared properly. Is your place strictly vegetarian, or will this be an expansion of an existing menu that offers meat?
"The pressure's on...let's cook something!"
"The pressure's on...let's cook something!"
post #11 of 13
This place here does really good vegetarian stuff. So good in fact that all kinds of folks went there. I used to eat there a lot beause the food was good, not because it was vegetarian. I'm not vegetarian anyway.

Welcome to Leonors Vegetarian Restaurant
post #12 of 13
The problem that arises when non-vegetarian developers try to develop vegetarian dishes with tofu, tempeh or seitan as a protein base is they try to make it taste like meat.
Vegetarians who wish for better choices at main stream restaurants (is everyone over the grilled portobella sandwich yet?) do not want to eat fake meat or meat substitutes or vegetarian protein sources masquerading as meat. Flexitarians who eat some meat, but largely vegetarian diets don't want this stuff either.
Develop something interesting with tofu, seitan, or tempeh that's delicious and true to it's original ethnic and intended use and people will enjoy it.
Make sure it's fresh, because nothing is quite as bad as stale tofu or overripe tempeh that's dressed up as fake meat.
post #13 of 13
Well put!

Very good fresh tofu is superb by itself, with just a splash of soy sauce and perhaps some fresh ginger or scallion. The same dish made from stale tofu, or even tofu that's just not much good, is mediocre or worse. It's a question of ingredient quality: if a given ingredient is excellent, it can be served very simply.

The problem, though, is that fresh tofu is not an easy thing to come by in the U.S. Just to give a strong example, I currently live in Kyoto, which pretty much everybody in Japan agrees is the best place for tofu. If you buy tofu in a package here, it has two dates: when it was made, and when it should be discarded. The difference is normally three days: if it's made on Monday, you should finish it up by Thursday at the latest. And if you're not going to cook it, you really should eat it by Tuesday. Any tofu that lasts longer than this has preservatives in it, and will have a mild to strong chemical taste. If you do have very fresh tofu, it must sit submerged in cold, clean, soft water, which should be changed at least daily.

The same rules apply to flavored tofu, which can be good if freshly made: yuzu tofu is fabulous on the day it's made, with just a dash of soy sauce. The problem isn't whether the tofu is or isn't flavored, it's whether it's worth eating, and if it has a long shelf life, which means it's full of preservatives, it's not worth eating.

Bottom line: Real tofu is to the usual packaged stuff as real cheese is to Velveeta. Would you make a big deal about your exciting new sandwich that uses 100% genuine Velveeta? Or would you only do that if you were using a good real cheese and wanted to draw attention to it? Same goes for tofu. If you want to attract and keep customers with these sandwiches, you must use really good tofu.
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