There’s a sandwich in Cape Town as cool as F. Scott Fitzgerald’s ‘The Great Gatsby’, with a back story as interesting as that of the novel’s lead character Jay. In fact it’s called the Gatsby.The sandwich is iconic in Cape Town, as famous there as the Bunny Chow is in Durban.Legend goes that it was invented by Athlone-based fish shop owner Rashaad Pandy back in 1976 when he filled a large Portuguese roll with some slap chips (hot chips) and leftovers which he cut up and shared between workers who had been helping him clean his building.

One of the workers loved it so much he declared it was a ‘Gatsby’, meaning that he rated it as a smash-hit just like the movie of the time, starring Robert Redford.

While there are different variations on the Gatsby (masala steak, chicken, polony, vienna sausage, calamari, fish, chargrilled steak, salad and a variety of sauces) the rules state is MUST always contain slap chips…or it isn’t a Gatsby! And it should always be shared.

In America a similar sandwich (without always including slap chips) is called the American hoagie. In France it’s called an American (and does include the chips); and in the UK it’s named the Chip Butty.

The Gatsby sandwich is popular by day with workers and by night with party-goers.

The recipe below is for the extremely popular masala (mixed spice) steak.

Recipe type: Brunch
Cuisine: South African
Serves: 2
  • 500gr steak, thinly sliced against the grain
  • 1large onion thinly sliced
  • 1 tomato, grated
  • A glug of oil
  • 2 tsps ginger and garlic paste
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cumin, ground
  • 1 tsp coriander, ground
  • 2 tsps curry powder
  • 1 tsp crushed chilli flakes
  • 1 large soft baguette
  • Freshly fried chips
  • Handful of shredded lettuce
  • Sliced tomato and cucumber
  • Tomato sauce or peri-peri sauce
  • cheddar cheese, grated (optional)
  1. Combine all the spices and rub into the meat.
  2. Heat a glug of oil in a saucepan.
  3. Add the onion and braise until golden brown.
  4. Add the meat and cook with the lid on over medium heat for about 45 minutes until the meat is tender.
  5. Add the tomato and cook for another 15 to 20 minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated.
  6. Cut the baguette lengthwise.
  7. Spread some sauce of your choice on both sides of the baguette
  8. Add steak to the bottom half of the baguette
  9. Add a layer of lettuce and tomato then pack the soft chips on top of that.
  10. Add more sauce
  11. Add cheese if using.
Close the sandwich and enjoy!
Tip: Best eaten on the same day!