By MIRANDA ORSO
---- — PLATTSBURGH — Tricia Begor is no stranger to competition, and now her healthy lunch idea could help her win big in the Panera Bread Sandwich Showdown.
She recently paired her love of entering sweepstakes, a hobby she picked up from her father, with her appreciation for Panera’s healthy menu choices and put her idea for a smoked chipotle turkey sandwich in consideration for the $10,000 grand prize.
The winning sandwich will be featured on the restaurant’s bakery-café menu across the country in 2013.
With more than 35,000 entries submitted, judges had a lot of recipes to review before narrowing the contest down to just 20 finalists from all over the country.
Begor said could not believe it when she found out her sandwich was still in the running.
“I would love to go to Panera and see my sandwich on the menu,” she said.
Her savory sandwich features smoked turkey breast, smoked cheddar cheese, baby spinach, avocado, almonds and is topped with chipotle mayonnaise served on focaccia bread.
Begor said she grew to love Panera’s menu while working at Bombardier in Plattsburgh, as the company often orders food from the restaurant to cater corporate gatherings.
“They don’t have a sandwich with spinach and avocados,” she said. “This was something I would want to pull out of the box and immediately eat.”
The smoked turkey chipotle was created by the health-conscious Begor following a lifestyle change that helped her lose several pounds over the last few years and a transition to a healthier way of eating.
“I always look for a healthy, spicy and lean protein sandwich,” she wrote in the story featured with the sandwich on the company’s website.
In addition to having their sandwich idea on Panera’s menu and $10,000 cash, the big winner will also receive a $500 gift card for the restaurant, along with a Bagels for a Year certificate.
According to the judging criteria from the contest’s website, in order to narrow the thousands of entries to the final 20, each sandwich was awarded scores in four separate categories: taste appeal (75 percent), creativity of the recipe (15 percent) and the story behind the sandwich (5 percent) and ability to recreate the recipe in the restaurant (5 percent).
Four runners-up will receive $1,000 cash, along with a $150 Panera Bread gift card. Fifteen finalists will also be awarded a $150 gift card for their sandwich submission.
Now it’s up to the public to decide whose sandwich will reign supreme and make it to the menu by casting votes for their favorite online through Nov. 11.
Begor hopes people will vote for her turkey creation and that it will help “put Plattsburgh on the map.”
She encourages everyone to enter sweepstakes.
“People really do win contests, so don’t be afraid to enter.”
HOW TO VOTE
To cast a vote for Begor’s turkey sandwich, visit http://recipes.howstuffworks.com/panera-bread-sandwich-showdown-contest.htm.
Voting can be done once daily leading up to the Nov. 11 deadline.
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