How Mason Hereford Makes the Ultimate Tomato Sandwich

The Turkey and the Wolf chef takes you step by step through his summer original

Photo: William Hereford

For many Southerners, nothing is better on a hot afternoon than juicy slices of perfectly ripe tomato layered with Duke’s mayonnaise and a pinch of salt and pepper between two slices of white bread. Chef Mason Hereford—author of a recently released New York Times best-selling cookbook and the owner of the New Orleans restaurants Turkey and the Wolf and Molly’s Rise and Shine—couldn’t agree more; but to him, the classic summer staple deserves a slight twist. 

“Imagine a tomato sandwich you would make at your house, and then dial everything up to ten,” Hereford says. “Every ingredient that we add to it, we try to amplify the flavor the most that we can. The idea is to make sure everything there has a moment in the spotlight that is your palate.” And with a hefty shake of sunflower seeds, a handful of fresh-picked dill, and a bunch of basil, all topped with a generous squeeze of lemon juice, the dish does just that. 

This inventive spin on a traditional Southern dish is just one of many that Hereford includes in Turkey and the Wolf: Flavor Trippin’ in New Orleans, along with the likes of the Grand Slam McMuffin breakfast sandwich, Mom’s Famous Burnt Tomatoes dish, and Molly’s Biscuits. The recipes reflect Hereford’s own philosophy as a chef: to prioritize enjoying the cooking process and having fun above all else. “Whether that means choosing ingredients that make you smile, make you laugh, remind you of being younger, or are bright in flavor, the whole point is to have a good time.”

You can watch Hereford take you through the steps below.

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  • “The Tomato” (Yields: 4 sandwiches)

    • 6 tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature

    • 8 thick slices of white bread, preferably 1-inch thick

    • ½ cup Duke’s mayonnaise

    • 1 cup roasted, salted, hulled sunflower seeds

    • 1 tbsp. kosher salt (Diamond Crystal or about half as much Morton)

    • Freshly ground pepper, to taste

    • 2 lbs. juicy, ripe tomatoes, cored and cut across into ½-inch slices

    • “Big ol’” handful of basil leaves

    • Handful of picked dill

    • 2 juicy lemons, halved


  1. Get a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet or griddle good and hot over medium heat. 

  2. Swipe the butter on each side of the bread and toast in batches in the skillet until both sides are golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes per side. When they’re done, move them to a rack or stand them up so they lean against each other to keep from getting soggy.

  3. Spread the mayo evenly on one side of each slice of bread; consider adding more because tomatoes love mayo. Then, sprinkle the sunflower seeds on four of the slices. Sprinkle the salt and lots of pepper on both sides of the tomato slices, then pile them on the bread slices that have sunflower seeds. Top the tomatoes with the herbs (it’s a lot, so just try your best to tuck them in there and don’t sweat it if they fall onto the plate). 

  4. Squeeze on every last drop of juice from the lemons. 

  5. Top with the rest of the bread. Cut it in half if you want. Instagram it, and tag your mom. Eat.

Reprinted from Turkey and the Wolf: Flavor Trippin’ in New Orleans, copyright © 2022 by Mason Hereford. Photographs copyright © 2022 by William Hereford. Published by Ten Speed Press.