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The battle is back on for the nation’s top toasted sandwich and this year’s Great New Zealand Toastie Takeover has a record number of entrants, with sandwich names ranging from bad puns to the frankly unpublishable.
The annual competition keeps growing, with 185 eateries participating for 2023. Toastie fans are busy sampling the contestants’ wares as they battle it out between now and late June.
Open to all New Zealand eateries, this year’s participants range from sandwich specialists to fine dining restaurants, breweries and food trucks. Competition rules remain the same as previous years. Each toastie must be sandwiched between two slices of bread and be able to be eaten by hand if necessary. The toasted sandwich must contain cheese (or an acceptable vegan substitute) and pickles from the McClure’s Pickles range. Everything else is up to the maker’s imagination.
Originality and innovation are again on show this year, with hero ingredients that include smoked eel, gabagool, crayfish, wagyu steak tartare, pork belly, lamb pastrami, smoked prawns, wild deer, beef short rib, braised ham hock, smoked brisket, apple cider pulled pork and sustainable line-caught fish.
Equally adventurous condiments range from kawakawa aioli to blueberry balsamic jam, pinot noir jelly, banana chips, consommé dipping broth, pickle juice gel and McClure’s pickle caviar. Breads include gold leaf brioche, ramen noodle buns, pickle brine sourdough and beef fat-brushed New York deli roll.
The trend towards vegetarian or plant-based entrants continues, with 10 vegan and five vegetarian entries, with ingredients like crispy tofu schnitzel, roasted ‘duck’ cheese, housemade ‘not salmon’, and ‘faux shore tuna’ made from lemon roasted chickpeas.
Also notable this year is the multitude of cuisines on offer – everything from Korean to Japanese, Vietnamese, Filipino, Chinese, Indian, Mexican, Cuban, Jamaican and American and of course Māori and Kiwiana-style entries.
With participating eateries vying for a spot in the competition’s final round, it’s now up to the team of 30 judges to eat their way around all 185 venues and decide which sandwiches make it to the final 12. Finalists will be revealed in late May, and after a second round of judging the supreme winner will be announced on 20 June.
Kiwis also have the power to vote for their favourite toasted sandwich with the return of the People’s Choice Award. Voting is open now, with the winner announced late May.
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