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Great New Zealand Toastie Takeover Finalists

The judges in this year’s Great NZ Toastie Takeover have a difficult decision ahead as 13 outstanding finalists are revealed in the battle for the country’s top toasted sandwich.

With a whopping 100,000 toasties served up since the first round of judging, the competition’s more than 180 entries have been whittled down to 13 finalists across six regions. 

Those finalists hail from Auckland, Ngatea, Okere Falls (Rotorua), Ohakune, Havelock North, Palmerston North, Greytown, Nelson, Christchurch, Queenstown, Twizel, and Dunedin, and encompass local eateries, rural roadside cafes, breweries, a food truck, a fish farm, a burger bar, an artisan food store, and a newly opened toasted sandwich bar.

Competition criteria required sandwiches to be toasted between two slices of bread and – like all respectable toasties – able to be eaten by hand. The toasted sandwiches also needed to contain cheese (or a vegan substitute) and McClure’s Pickles, with all the other ingredients left entirely to the entrants’ imaginations. 

Head judge Kerry Tyack says those imaginations ran wild this year, presenting his team of 30-plus judges with an extremely tough task in choosing the finalists.

“It feels like this year, amidst all the Covid chaos, the toastie has reached the lofty heights of the great Kiwi pie, the whitebait fritter, the perfect pav, and the cheese roll, and can now be accorded the status of national treasure,” he says. 

“The judging team assessed many, many standouts in this year’s entries. Chefs tackling the toastie have clearly got the hang of making sure it is well toasted, easy to eat – even on the run, and has the right balance of complementary ingredients to keep customers coming back time and again.

A variety of smoked and slow-cooked meats and McClure’s Pickles can be found among the ingredients in this year’s finalists. Queenstown finalist Johnny Crema Food Truck’s Reubie Roll features Corned beef, horseradish béchamel, McClure’s Sweet & Spicy Pickles, all rolled up on a divine slice of European Bakery jumbo loaf, served with crisps.

AUCKLAND

  • Archie Café: Pepper Pig: Hot pork, double cheese blend, McClure’s Sweet & Spicy Pickles, mustard and sriracha on toasted sourdough.
  • Wynyard Pavilion: Low ‘n Slow: Low & slow smoked wagyu brisket, Massimo’s mozzarella, McClure’s Sweet & Spicy Pickles, truffle aioli and Old Yella habanero mustard.

WAIKATO / BAY OF PLENTY / COROMANDEL / ROTORUA

  • The Public Office (Ngatea, Coromandel): The Smoky Pork & Pickle: Cider braised pork, smoky wood sauce, melted gouda and McClure’s Sweet & Spicy Pickles, topped with crispy fried pickles.
  • Okere Falls Store (Rotorua): Get Smoked, Pickled + Toasted: House smoked, beer brined brisket, McClure’s Sweet & Spicy Pickles, hop salted mozzarella, smoked cheddar, watercress and horseradish on Bread Asylum X Lumberjack Brewing spent grain sourdough with pickle brine sour cream and a beer gravy dipping bowl.

CENTRAL NORTH ISLAND

  • Toastie Ohakune (Ohakune): Owen’s Missus, Who Takes No SCHMACK: Corned beef, pickled carrots, Pepper & Me ‘Schmack Sauce,’ McClure’s Bread & Butter Pickles and four cheeses.
  • Best Burgers (Havelock North): A Cluckin Patty Melt: Chicken fried Best Burgers patty, Swiss cheese, bacon & onion Jam, McClure’s Bread & Butter Pickles, Best Burgers Special Sauce on house potato bread.

WELLINGTON REGION

  • Brew Union (Palmerston North): Pork & Rye: Pickled pork, jalapeno, date and smoked gouda cheese sauce, American mustard mayo and McClure’s Sweet & Spicy Pickles on rye bread.
  • The Offering (Greytown): Beef Greytown (Our take on a classic): Four cheese blend with Parkvale mushrooms, onion and baby spinach, thyme and parsley to form a spread, French mustard, pulled hot smoked rump beef with a chipotle BBQ Sauce, McClure’s Bread & Butter Pickles, white cheese sauce, all nestled between toasted marble rye bread.

UPPER SOUTH ISLAND

  • Little Nessie Café (Nelson): Toasted Reuben: Pastrami, Swiss cheese, McClure’s Sweet & Spicy Pickles, sauerkraut, secret sauce.
  • BEERS (Christchurch): Lamb Margera: Smoked lamb shoulder, Swiss cheese, McClure’s Sweet & Spicy Pickles, kimchi and onion rings on sourdough.  

LOWER SOUTH ISLAND (three finalists, tie in second place) 

  • Morning Magpie (Dunedin): Tickle My Pickle: Organic sourdough, McClure’s Sweet & Spicy Pickles with house pickles, a big slab of Evansdale cheese, served with a dipper of tomato soup. (Also a finalist in 2021)
  • High Country Salmon (Twizel): Loco Mexicano: Cold smoked salmon, McClure’s Sweet & Spicy Pickles, corn salsa, avocado, cheese, spinach, cornflakes and chilli mayo, in toasted rye sourdough. Served with fries.
  • Johnny Crema (Food Truck, Frankton, Queenstown): Reubie Roll: Corned beef, horseradish béchamel, McClure’s Sweet & Spicy Pickles, all rolled up on a divine slice of European Bakery jumbo loaf, served with crisps.