A new luxury sandwich brand has caused quite the stir after launching with a menu including a beef and 24 carat edible gold leaf creation which will set you back £50.
Andrea Zagatti, a Cordon Bleu-trained chef, launched Mr Z on Saturday 6 February, and was surprised to see that the menu had gone viral on social media pre-launch.
“I didn’t realise the menu had gone viral on Twitter and Facebook,” Zagatti tells Yahoo UK. “And I certainly didn’t expect sales to come in like that. To have so many orders was incredible. It was an incredible reaction.”
As well as the Millionaire rib-eye steak and gold leaf ciabatta for £50, other luxe dishes include the Truffle Club made with chicken, jamon de bellota and black truffle for £30, and mortadella, burrata and Sicilian pistachios in focaccia, also for £30. All delivered in Mercedes cars.
There has been some criticism on social media that £50 is an awful lot of money to spend on a sandwich, particularly in the current climate.
However, there does currently appear to be an appetite for fancy food and drink, with some Brits in lockdown popping more premium corks and splashing out on luxury delicacies to help ease the misery of being stuck indoors.
Figures from the Wine and Spirit Trade Association reveal sales of champagne in supermarkets and shops were up 16% by volume and 22% by value in the 12 weeks leading up to New Year, the equivalent to 2.3m bottles worth £63m.
Similarly, sales of luxury foods such as smoked salmon, patés, fine cheeses and chocolates soared in the run-up to Christmas as Brits splurged on special pick-me-up treats.
Zagatti, 29, originally came up with the idea for the high-end sandwich brand after making his girlfriend a smoked salmon and caviar croissant one day, with her declaring it the best thing she’d ever eaten.
At the same time a friend suggested turning his luxury sandwiches into a business, joking that he should have them delivered in posh cars.
With lockdown impacting the hospitality industry and Zagatti’s own circumstances, he decided to take that idea and run with it.
The idea for the gold leaf sandwich came after hearing news of a £1,000 steak wrapped in gold leaf, with Zagatti deciding to create his own sandwich version.
Within his first weekend he sold 60 sandwiches and says feedback from those who have tried the menu has been fantastic.
"I have literally chosen the best ingredients I can find, many of them locally sourced and I've only had amazing reviews from clients," he says.
Watch: Would you eat this gold leaf steak?
Speaking of criticism on social media, Zagatti says he has experienced some negativity, mainly about the price of the sandwiches, something he says he understands and puts down to frustrations of the pandemic.
"People obviously are frustrated to have to stay home. Nothing is open so hospitality is suffering and then I come out and start to do something which is working," he explains.
"I feel like there is a little bit of frustration from the situation and maybe a little bit of maybe jealousy, at not having thought about it first.
"I'm just trying to make a living out of it. I didn't work for nearly six to 12 months because of the situation with the pandemic. So I just got up one day decided to give it a go."
"In my profession, cooking for celebrities and the rich and famous, there's a lot of contrast between the chefs cooking in the kitchen and the clients eating the food prepared," Zagatti adds. "It is two different worlds.
"My understanding is criticism and positive comments live with each other. They don't exist without each other."
But Zagatti says he has been on a bit of a learning curve having to deal with the negativity.
"I've always had positive feedback from clients in my career as a private chef, which is exactly what you want," he says.
"While it was a crash for me to receive some negative comments, I've learnt to understand that unfortunately that does exist in the world.
"It is a shame because I'm a very positive person, so I don't always understand negativity. But I've learnt that now, more than ever, unfortunately love and hate have to live with each other."
Zagatti says he has learnt to appreciate that his sandwiches aren't going to please everybody, but while there's a demand for them, he's going to keep making them.
Afterall, people spend a lot of money on luxury cars and homeware, why not sandwiches?