The Consumption of Style: Eastman Egg Company
Name: Hunter Swartz
Title: Founder & CEO
Sandwich Featured: The Fairfax
How it’s made/prepared/composition:
We keep our sandwiches simple. We make our sauces from scratch, source our eggs and meats from the best farm in Illinois, and then bring in bread daily from Logan Square. The key is that every sandwich is made by hand, only after it is ordered. The Fairfax: farm egg, Egmont cheese, sautéed bell pepper, wilted spinach, house green goddess sauce, 7-grain roll
How was the Eastman Egg Company started?
We started with a simple idea: every morning should be memorable. I started making breakfast sandwiches at home in San Francisco for my fiancée (now wife) in 2010 because I couldn’t find a decent egg sandwich (hooked on the ubiquitous NYC egg sandwich after 2.5 years as an investment banker). With practice, my homemade breakfast sandwiches were pretty good and took me about 10 minutes to make. When we moved to Chicago in 2012, I bought a food truck and built relationships with Slagel Family Farm, Sparrow Coffee and La Farine Bakery. We now serve the best sandwich in the country in under 4 minutes (on average) from our store.
Is breakfast really the most important meal of the day?
Unequivocally. A positive start nutritionally and psychologically makes for healthier eating, more productivity, and a happier life. I’d ask a question – how good is that first cup of coffee? Or that first bite of an egg sandwich? When you make it yourself on the weekend? Amazing. Let’s do that every day. Why would you ever start a day with an energy drink and granola bar? That’s just sad.
How are you assisting Chicagoans in having better weekdays?
We’re making fine dining breakfast available every morning. We’re practical foodies who would love to spend more time in Lincoln Park and Logan Square eating our way through a weekend, but we felt lost in the Loop. From our store, you can grab a cup of Sparrow coffee (served at Sixteen in Trump Tower) and a Slagel ham, egg, and cheese sandwich (ham and eggs served at Publican in the West Loop) in less than 5 minutes and for $10 every morning on your way to work. To me, that’s a win, every day.
What qualities of Sparrow coffee are distinguishable from other roasts around Chicago?
Sparrow has a food-first approach to coffee. We’re a food company first and foremost. The team at Sparrow took that emphasis and helped us craft an impeccable cup of coffee that could stand by itself or with the Doc (bacon, egg, and cheese). We’ve now expanded to 4 different roasts (1 drip, 1 single-origin iced, 1 espresso, and 1 single-origin pour-over).
What’s most important to Eastman Egg Company when sourcing your ingredients?
Taste. Do you love that piece of ham? Does it make you think you might never find a better piece of ham? It’s a simple idea; we find the best.
How are the Eastman Egg Company ingredients sourced?
~85% of our menu comes from within 200 miles of Chicago. We work with our producers directly for the vast majority of the ingredients, which means we have a clear understanding of what goes into every bite.
What attracted you to Slagel Family Farm?
Louis John Slagel has been an incredible partner. When we were preparing to open our first store, we talked with him about ordering more eggs. He said no problem, he’d go get some more chickens. We gave him the green light 3 months before we opened, and now we’re bringing in 20 cases of eggs a week. It’s incredible.
What about La Farine Bakery’s bread is exceptional in terms of bread standards?
Simple ingredients. Great technique. They do a wonderful job every day with an incredibly fresh product.
How do you find a proper flavor balance between your eggs and your house sauces?
Trial and error. We’ve been perfecting our recipes for almost two years, and we’re proud of what we put together. Most importantly, our store team eats our sandwiches every day, so we know what’s working. If it’s not working, we adapt.