Deciding the winner of a toasted sandwich competition has got to be one of the better jobs you can do.
The judges of this year’s Great NZ Toastie Takeover would’ve had a delicious time of it, thanks to 185 entries created at venues up and down the country – from cafes to cocktail bars, beloved bistros and even the Cook Strait ferry.
After the first round of 14 finalists was decided by more than 40 judges, the final round saw Joe McClure of McClure’s Pickles, Nick Brown of Cook & Nelson and independent food writer and critic Kerry Tyack crown a winner – which has been announced today as Brooke Moore of Mount Maunganui pub The Freeport with Cleaver & Co.
The 20-year-old chef created a sandwich named Surf, Turf & Smoke, Monsieur! for her entry – a fresh take on surf’n’turf that she says aimed to celebrate the coast and pastures of the Tauranga region.
“I tried to make it as relevant as possible to the Bay area, with everything made by us in-house – except for the delicious sourdough, which is a favourite from our friends at local bakers Breadhead.”
Her sandwich features house-made smoked lamb pastrami and smoked prawns, as well as mozzarella, smoked cheddar sauce and McClure's Sweet & Spicy Pickles (the competition was established and is sponsored by McClure’s Pickles and Cook & Nelson). The bread of choice is Breadhead’s miso tahini sourdough, and the lot is served with smoked aioli and pickle juice gel.
Last year’s competition saw 140,000 toasted sandwiches consumed around the country, and head judge Kerry Tyack says the entrants were more innovative than ever this year. “It is clear that around the motu, entrants are taking this comp very seriously and that plenty of thought has gone into the delivery of top-flight toasties.
“Seasoning levels were much more consistent, the choice of cheese more considered and the importance of monitoring fat content has been noted.”
The People’s Choice Award went to The Waipiata Country Hotel in Otago for its Waipiata BBQ Beef Bulgogis sandwich, featuring beef strips marinated in local heritage pears. The pears were grilled and combined with caramelised onions, house-made horseradish cream, gruyere cheese and McClure's Bread & Butter Pickles – all encased in soft Turkish bread.
Moore’s winning toastie will remain on the menu at The Freeport with Cleaver & Co every day until early August, with the chef and eatery winning a bespoke trophy by local maker Rikki Berger and a year’s worth of McClure’s Pickles.