The Shout Magazine (New Zealand)

The Great NZ Toastie Takeover competition returns with a cost

The Great NZ Toastie Takeover competition returns with a cost

Think your toastie tastes top? The Great NZ Toastie Takeover is back for winter and organisers of the annual competition are once again on the hunt for the country’s supreme toasted sandwich.

Returning for a seventh year, the popular competition is open to all New Zealand eateries, with everyone from cafes, bistros and hotel eateries to bars, pop-ups, hole-in-the-wall eateries and food trucks taking part.  

With entries now open for 2024, competition rules remain the same. Each creation must be sandwiched between two slices of bread and able to be eaten by hand. Each toastie must also contain cheese, or an acceptable vegan substitute, and pickles from the McClure’s Pickles range. Everything else is up to the toastie maker’s imagination.

As in previous years, each toasted sandwich will be scored using set criteria. This includes presentation, preparation, eat-ability, taste, provenance and innovation.

Each entry must be on the establishment’s menu for the full duration of the competition, during lunch hours and/or dinner hours, from Wednesday 26 June to Monday 5 August 2024 inclusive. Finalists must have their toastie on the menu until Wednesday 21 August inclusive.

Like last year, food truck entries will be judged on a designated weekend in July with the entrant required to provide exact date, time and location details prior to the judging weekend.

The People’s Choice Award also returns in 2024 giving Kiwis the power to vote for their favourite participating eatery and toastie. The eatery with the most votes from the public will take away this year’s People’s Choice Award.

While previous years’ events have been free to enter, organisers Cook & Nelson have this year introduced a modest entry of $199 plus Gst for new entrants and $149 plus Gst for previous participants. This is to help cover the costs of judging, promotional material and marketing, says organiser Nick Brown.

A special early bird discount of 10 percent will apply for entries received by May 20.

Entries open today (May 6) and close on June 12. Judging will begin from June 26, with finalists announced on August 5 and the supreme winner revealed on August 21.

Attracting more than 185 entries, last year’s competition saw a bumper line-up of 14 finalists hailing from Auckland, Rotorua, Hamilton, Tauranga, Havelock North, New Plymouth, Wellington, Christchurch, Nelson, Ashburton and Lumsden, and encompassing everything from beloved neighbourhood eateries and cafes, to a coffee roaster, a diner, a burger bar, several breweries, a tavern and a beer garden.

Taking top honours in the Great NZ Toastie Takeover 2023 was talented young chef Brooke Moore from Mount Maunganui’s Freeport with Cleaver & Co with her impressive creation Surf, Turf & Smoke, Monsieur!

A standout for competition judges, Freeport’s winning toastie featured housemade smoked lamb pastrami, smoked prawns, mozzarella, smoked cheddar sauce and McClure’s Sweet & Spicy Pickles, sandwiched between locally-made BreadHead miso tahini sourdough and served with smoked aioli and pickle juice gel.

The competition’s toastmaster royale, Joe McClure, from Detroit-based McClure’s Pickles, applauded Moore and said her “exceptional toastie left me wanting more.”

“The brilliance of Moore’s toastie lies in its great use of ingredients and the innovative concept of surf and turf within a region that truly exemplifies both. Each bite was a harmonious blend of flavours, with the succulent surf and turf elements perfectly complementing each other. It was a delightful culinary journey that showcased the creativity and skill of chef Moore.

“One unique aspect – besides the house-smoked lamb pastrami and smoked prawns – was the side of pickle juice gel, allowing the diner to personalise their experience by dosing it at their discretion. This added a delightful tangy twist to each bite, further enhancing the overall taste profile. Attention to detail, overall presentation, taste and innovation all came together to set this toastie apart.”

Noticing a significant leap forward in terms of toastie innovation in 2023, head judge Kerry Tyack said his team of 40-plus judges around the country were wowed by the innovation on show, the new and unexpected ingredients and flavour combinations, and the effort being put into producing exciting, mouth-watering toasties.

“We saw great results from experienced old hands, matched by equally successful offerings from new entrants, with upscale restaurants competing alongside sandwich specialists, breweries, diners, food caravans, cocktail bars, you name it, and those taking part reporting a notable increase in custom.

“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.”

One tip from Kerry for this year’s entrants: “Where we feel there is still opportunity for fine-tuning is in bread type and thickness. Some toasties were too bread heavy and so lost points. Those venues that mastered this all-important balance delighted the team with terrific toasties full of finesse, innovation and satisfaction.”

Got a top-flight toastie you think tastes top? Enter now for a chance to take top honours in the Great NZ Toastie Takeover 2024.

To submit your own entry or view the full terms and conditions of the competition, go to the entry page on

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