Say Cheese! The Great NZ Toastie Takeover Kicks Up a Gear

The Great New Zealand Toastie Takeover is back for 2021 and if there’s one thing to learn from the sheer breadth of this year’s entries, it’s that the not-so-humble cheese toastie still holds a special place in Kiwis’ hearts.

With a whopping 50 percent increase in entries nationwide, those throwing their hat in the ring for top toastie honours this year include a wide range of restaurants, cafés, pubs, delis, bakeries, breweries, vineyards, hole-in-the-wall eateries, and even a handful of food trucks.

With those entrants stretching from Auckland to Dunedin, this year’s 36 judges will certainly have their work cut out for them whittling the 126 entries down to just 12 finalists across six regions.

The variety of entries on offer has expanded this year, too, with an increase in vegan and vegetarian combinations (10% of total entries) and a noticeable spike in the number of sandwiches featuring kimchi. As far as the other ingredients go, this year’s toasties feature everything from hangi to haggis to pork hock and of course pickles.

Now in its fourth year, the Great New Zealand Toastie Takeover has also garnered entries from some iconic Kiwi eateries, including Whitianga’s Coroglen Tavern, Rotorua’s Okere Falls Store, Roxy Theatre Café in Miramar, and the Cardrona Hotel in Wanaka. Entries with multiple participating restaurants include Burger Burger, Brother’s Juke Joint, Daily Bread, Farro Fresh and Hallertau.

Now the judging begins with the 12 finalists set to be revealed on July 1. The competition’s dedicated toastie judge will then visit all the finalists to sample their sandwiches and share their feedback and scores with McClure’s Pickles co-founder, Joe McClure, and head judge Kerry Tyack.

The judges will also make sure each entry follows the competition guidelines. The toasties must be sandwiched between two slices of bread and able to be eaten by hand if necessary. Each toastie must also contain cheese as well as pickles from the McClure’s Pickles range.

Detroit based Joe McClure said he’s disappointed to once again miss out on judging the toasties for himself, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but said he’s hopeful of returning to New Zealand for the competition next year.

“I’m gutted to miss this epic tour again,” commented McClure.

“I’m so impressed with the originality, names and descriptions of the toastie entries this year and with names like Toastie Thyme, Poultry in Motion, Good-bye, Pork Pie, The Barry Crump, the Great Country Calendar, the Roastie Toastie and the Notorious P.I.G. It’s clear entrants have really thought about the Kiwiness of the much-loved toasted sandwich and equally, it’s great to see so much innovation and influence from South American, Mexican and Indian cuisine.”

Judging will be split into the following six regions: Auckland/Northland; Hamilton/Waikato, Central North Island, Wellington Region, Upper South Island and Lower South Island.

Each toastie will be scored on set criteria, including presentation, the effectiveness of preparation technique, eatability, taste, innovation and originality.

Last year’s winner, Hungry Hobos in Dunedin, took out the coveted award with their “Bat out of Hell” entry, featuring homemade meatloaf (made to Grandma’s recipe), creamy mashed potato, gravy, aged cheddar and McClure’s Sweet & Spicy Pickles slathered between herb- buttered ciabatta. This year, Hungry Hobos is trying their luck with a sweet and spicy pulled carrot creation that’s sure to intrigue both their customers and the competition judges.

All finalists will receive a supply of McClure’s pickles and cash in the form of dine-in vouchers to give away to their customers. The supreme winner will be announced on Friday, July 30, and will walk away with a year’s worth of pickles, cash in the form of dine-in vouchers, a crafted native timber toastie trophy, and - most importantly - bragging rights to the best-toasted sandwich in the country.

A second, public voted competition will also take place concurrently this year, with toastie fans encouraged to vote online for their favourite entry from the list of participating outlets.

Details can be found on the Great New Zealand Toastie Takeover website or direct from the eatery.

All participating eateries are listed by region below. For more information about the Great New Zealand Toastie Takeover, check out toastietakeover.com and for more about McClure’s Pickles, see mcclures.com #toastietakeover

AUCKLAND (30)

Archie Cafe (Ponsonby)

Beaufort + Co (Oteha)

Bread & Butter Bakery & Café (Grey Lynn)

Brick Bay Winery Café (Snells Beach)

Burger Burger (all outlets)

Cheese on Toast (Mt Eden)

Churly’s Brew Pub (Mt Eden)

Daily Bread (all outlets)

Dedwood Deli (Ponsonby)

Dirty Laundry (AKL CBD)

Farro Fresh (all stores)

Federal Delicatessen (AKL CBD)

Hallertau  (Riverhead & Clevedon)

Juke Joint, Brothers Beer (all outlets)

Piko Café – AUT Campus (AKL CBD)

Pilkington's (AKL CBD)

Rebel Rebel Café (AKL CBD)

Rosier Burgers (Glen Eden)

Spectra Café (AKL CBD)

Takeoff Espresso (AKL Airport)

The Brewers Co-Operative (AKL CBD)

The Brit Pub and Eatery (AKL CBD)

The Daily Goods (Food Truck, Pukekohe)

The Northcote Kitchen (Northcote Tavern)

The Occidental (AKL CBD)

Toasted As (Papakura)

Wipeout Kitchen (Food Truck, Muriwai)

Wise Boys (Grey Lynn)

Young George (Mount Albert)

WAIKATO / COROMANDEL / BOP (25)

Absolute Coffee House (Cambridge)

Anann - Pineapple Pub (Te Puke)

Aroha Café (Te Aroha)

Burger Burger (Bayfair, Mount Maunganui)

Bold Flavours Cafe and Restaurant (Rotorua)

Capers Cafe + Store (Rotorua)

Cooked (Whitianga)

Coroglen Tavern (Coroglen)

Cream Eatery (Hamilton)

DeCafe Murupara (Murupara)

Fire Restaurant (Mount Maunganui)

Flock Kitchen & Bar (Tairua)

Good George Dining Hall (Hamilton)

Johnny's Tairua (Tairua)

Mavis & Co (Hamilton)

Mount Made (Mount Maunganui)

Okere Falls Store (Okere Falls)

Sabor café (Te Awamutu)

Storyteller Bar & Eatery (Te Awamutu)

The Cook Bar (Hamilton)

The Foodette (Bethlehem, Tauranga)

The General (Mount Maunganui)

The Orchard House café(Katikati)

The Public Office (Ngatea)

Thy Neighbour Coffee Bar (Tauranga)

Winner Winner Hamilton East (Hamilton)

CENTRAL NORTH ISLAND (9)

Bay Espresso Karamu Road (Hastings)

Bellatino's Food Lovers Market (Napier)

Black Betty BBQ (Hastings)

CoLab Coffee (Hastings)

Little Black Bird (Hastings)

Little Fed Café (New Plymouth)

Replete Cafe & Store (Taupo)

Upside Down Eatery (Hawera)

Zest Cafe (Taupo)

WELLINGTON REGION (35)

Bebemos (Newtown, Wellington)

Bin44 Restaurant & Bar (Wellington CBD)

Cable Top Eatery (Kelburn, Wellington)

Concrete (Lambton Quay, Wellington)

Cuckoo Emporium (North Queen’s Wharf, Wellington)

Dillingers Brasserie & Bar (Te Aro, Wellington)

Fix & Fogg (Te Aro, Wellington)

Gelissimo@Freyberg (Oriental Parade, Wellington)

Golding's Free Dive (Te Aro, Wellington)

Goods Café & Manufactory (Thorndon, Wellington)

Gourmet Hi-Way (Hunterville)

Huxley’s (Pipitea, Wellington)

Jack Hackett's Irish Pub (Te Aro, Wellington)

Le Samourai (Te Aro, Wellington)

Little Beer Quarter (Te Aro, Wellington)

Lulu Bar  (Te Aro, Wellington)

Meat Candy BBQ (Palmerston North)

Mockingbird (Te Aro, Wellington)

Nolita (Te Aro, Wellington)

Park Kitchen (Miramar, Wellington)

Parrotdog (Lyall Bay, Wellington)

Petone Espresso (Petone)

Rosie's Red Cantina (Wellington CBD)

Roxy Cinema (Miramar, Wellington)

St Johns Bar & Eatery (Te Aro, Wellington)

Ten O'Clock Cookie & Bakery café (Masterton)

The Arborist (Te Aro, Wellington)

The Botanist (Lyall Bay, Wellington)

The Cambridge Hotel (Te Aro, Wellington)

The Clareville Bakery (Clareville)

The Crooked Elm (Lower Hutt)

The Hop Garden (Mount Victoria, Wellington)

The Offering (Greytown)

The Realm (Hatataitai, Wellington)

Wilson Barbecue (Johnsonville, Wellington)

UPPER SOUTH ISLAND (19)

.Com Café (Sumner, CHC)

Bacon Bro’s Burgers (CHC CBD)

Bottle & Stone  (CHC CBD)

Burger Burger (CHC CBD)

Coastal Coffee (Motueka)

Dispense Espresso (Woolston, CHC)

Kidd’s Cakes & Bakery (St Alban’s, CHC)

Little Merchants (Addington, CHC)

Mollies Bar and Eatery (Marlborough)

Morrell & Co. (Addington, CHC)

Picton Toastie (Picton)

Pomeroy's Old Brewery Inn (CHC CBD)

Shaka Bros (CHC CBD)

Street Food on Washington (Nelson)

Terra Viva Café (Burnside, CHC)

The Birdwood (Beckenham, CHC)

The Caffeine Laboratory (CHC CBD)

The Fine Lion (Ashburton)

The Vines Village Cafe and Deli (Blenheim)

The Waimate Kitchen & Bar (Waimate)

LOWER SOUTH ISLAND (9)

Edgewater Hotel (Wanaka)

Frankton Arm Tavern (Frankton)

High Country Salmon (Twizel)

Hungry Hobos (Dunedin)

Love Chicken (Frankton, Queenstown)

Margo's (Queenstown)

Morning Magpie (Dunedin)

The Cardrona Hotel (Cardrona)

The Pig & Whistle (Queenstown)