Shawarma “Philly Cheesesteak”

Chef Hoogeboom creates a true original with his Shawarma Philly Cheesesteak. He starts with a pretzel sub bun, coating it with butter and toasting it to perfection. The pretzel flavor, he says, is strong enough to stand up against the other powerful Middle Eastern flavors of the sandwich, including heavily seasoned flank steak, Greek Halloumi cheese, and sumac-coated wilted white onions. For an added nod to Greek cuisine, Hoogeboom serves it with a side of cucumber.


  • Gonnella pretzel sub bun
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 large white onion
  • ½ c sumac
  • 16 oz flank steak (or lamb)
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp cardamom
  • ½ tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • ½ tsp ground cloves
  • ½ tbsp ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 8 oz Halloumi cheese
  • ½ c peanut or soy oil


  1. Slice onion and rinse in water for about 5 minutes. Drain water. Spice with sumac, making sure each piece is coated well. Set aside.
  2. Cut flank steak (or choice of meat) against the grain into large slices.
  3. Butter the inside of the pretzel bun, making sure it is entirely covered for even toasting. Add a tablespoon of oil to a griddle pan or cast iron skillet and toast the bun.
  4. Prep shawarma spice. In a bowl, mix together coriander, cardamom, turmeric, cayenne pepper, cumin, paprika, cinnamon, and black pepper.
  5. In a skillet, heat peanut oil until just before the pan begins to smoke. Add meat. Once meat begins to sear and caramelize, mix in shawarma spice, fully coating each piece. Remove from heat once meat is cooked to preferred temperature.
  6. Slice Halloumi cheese.
  7. Add desired amount of meat to the toasted bun. Top with a large handful wilted onions and a slice or two of cheese, then bake at 350 degrees for 4-5 minutes or until cheese is melted. Enjoy!