June 30, 2023
Center City sandwich shop Middle Child has been crowned the ultimate breakfast spot in the country by "Good Morning America," which wrapped up its United States of Breakfast competition in New York City on Friday morning.
Middle Child had advanced to the final round of four on Thursday after defeating Old City bakery Darnel's Cakes during a competition in South Philly. On Friday, the diner-deli's pastrami, egg and cheese sandwich on rye bread went up against finalist from the show's previous stops in Cleveland, Boston and Houston.
Friday's show was judged by designer Carson Kressley, "Shark Tank" investor Barbara Corcoran, chef and TV personality Leah Cohen, and History Channel's "The Food That Built America" host Adam Richman. Votes from Kressley and Richman put Middle Child over the top, earning them a trophy and a $10,000 prize.
We've been traveling the country all week as part of our "United States of Breakfast" competition and now the winners face off in Times Square for the Golden Coffee Pot!— Good Morning America (@GMA) June 30, 2023
Which team will come out supreme? pic.twitter.com/JhRheo3Hl4
Two Philly businesses went head-to-head Thursday morning for a chance to represent the city's breakfast scene on "Good Morning America," which has been traveling the U.S. in search of the best morning meal.
The daytime talk show's "United States of Breakfast" competition set up shop at Bok Bar in South Philly to pit sandwich heavyweights Middle Child and Darnel's Cakes against one another. The show already has made stops in Houston, Cleveland and Boston to find winners for Friday's final round in New York City.
The judges of Thursday's contest were former Eagles offensive lineman Jon Runyan, CookNSolo restaurateur Michael Solomonov and 6ABC anchor Alicia Vitarelli.
Middle Child, the Center City sandwich spot, came to the table with its pastrami, egg and cheese sandwich on rye bread. It's available at the 248 S. 11th St. store between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. every day except Monday and costs $13.
"Often the middle child has got to be loud and make a name for themselves, and the whole point of this spot was the lunch counter," said Middle Child owner Matthew Cahn, who also has the swankier Middle Child Clubhouse in Fishtown.
Darnel's Cakes, which has a shop in Old City, showcased its bacon, egg and cheese sandwich served on a buttermilk biscuit with Thai chili-shallot aioli. The bakery was founded by Kyle Cuffie-Scott in honor of his cousin Darnel, who died due to complications with HIV/AIDS. Cuffie-Scott was joined by co-owner Joe Lope.
"First of all, the key to any good sandwich is the bread," Cuffie-Scott said. "We bake our biscuits fresh in-house every day. There's 216 layers of butter, flour, eggs, sugar, everything. It's a light, fluff, flakey, melt-in-your mouth sensation."
Lope said the sandwich uses applewood-smoked bacon and a blend of Gruyere, cheddar and parmesan cheese. The sandwich can be tried Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the shop at 444 N. 3rd St. and costs $8.25.
Solomonov, known for his acclaimed restaurants Zahav and Laser Wolf, explained what he thinks takes a breakfast sandwich to the next level.
"I think the key to a great breakfast sandwich is a perfect bite. You want to get all flavors," Solomonov said. "You want the robust headiness of the sandwich in your mouth for one bite. It's got to be great."
The competition was close. Runyan gave his vote to Darnel's Cakes, but Solomonov and Vitarelli were blown away by the pastrami.
Middle Child will take on Boston's North Street Grille, Cleveland's Grumpy's Cafe and Houston's Dandelion Cafe. The final round will air during Friday's "Good Morning America" and the winner will receive $10,000.