Twelve finalists found in hunt for New Zealand’s top toasted sandwich. Photo credit: @creativeimagesbypaulcschrader

New Zealand is a step closer to discovering the best cheese toastie in the land with 12 finalists in the 2020 Great New Zealand Toastie Takeover, revealed.

Hailing from Auckland to Dunedin, the finalists are a mixture of established cafes, hole-in-the-wall hideaways, tapas bars and container eateries, but they all share one thing in common – a dedication to the craft of the toasted sandwich.

Competition criteria required participating eateries to create sandwiches that were toasted between two slices of bread and – like all good toasties – able to be eaten by hand. The toasties also needed to contain cheese and McClure’s Pickles, with all the other ingredients entirely up to the entrants’ imaginations.

Two of the toasties through to the final are inspired by Indian cuisine, while both of Auckland’s finalists pay homage to burgers. Other entries include ingredients like BBQ jackfruit, peanut butter and Grandma’s meatloaf.

A phenomenal 20,000 cheese toasties were served up across 80 eateries in July as participating eateries vied for a spot in the final round – and competition has been fierce. The following finalists have been selected:


  • Jemima’s Kitchen – Oratia: Jemima’s Throwback – Smashed angus patty with house made tomato relish, McClure’s Sweet & Spicy Pickles and Swiss cheese.
  • Cheese on Toast – Mt Eden; The Grilled Cheese Burger – Caramelized beef mince, tomato jam, McClure’s Sweet & Spicy Pickles, mustard and white onion with a three-cheese blend toasted up on house made sourdough.


  • Hayes Common – Hamilton*: South of the “Bombay” sarnie – Based on the punchy street side sandwiches found in Mumbai (commonly known as a Bombay sandwich) this sandwich is filled with Meyer fenugreek Gouda, McClure’s Sweet & Spicy Pickles, mozzarella, mint, chaat Masala, spinach and cucumber made with Volare turmeric and cumin loaf topped with a crispy onion and McClure’s Pickle bhaji, and spicy tamarind sauce.
  • Flock Kitchen & Bar – Tairua: A Flockin Good iDEER – Sourdough bread, house made brie, venison, house made plum chutney, McClure’s Spicy Pickles, baby spinach served with house made potato chips.




  • Civil & Naval – Lyttleton: The ¼ Pack is Back – Civil fried chicken with McClure’s Garlic & Dill Pickles, Frank’s hot slaw, mashed potato bread, golden ale gravy.
  • Earl Bistro – Christchurch: Toastie Muff’aletta, shaved salamis & meats, ‘nduja butter, McClure’s Garlic & Dill Pickles, olive, provolone, buffalo mozzarella, winter pesto, & house crisps in a milk bun.


  • Love Chicken – Queenstown: The Southern – 3 Cheese mac & cheese, Southern-style fried organic free-range chicken & McClure’s McClure’s Sweet & Spicy Pickles.
  • Hungry Hobos – Dunedin: The Bat Out of Hell – Homemade meatloaf (Grandma’s recipe), with creamy mashed potato and gravy, layered with McClure’s Sweet & Spicy Pickles and aged-cheddar, toasted between our herb-buttered ciabatta.

Head judge Kerry Tyack says even amidst the appalling impact of Covid-19 on Kiwi restaurants and cafés, the amazing chefs have once again stepped up and produced a range of incredible entries to satisfy the never-ending appetite for a well-made toasted sandwich.

“From Whangarei to Queenstown, our 20 strong assessment team has been wowed by the innovation being shown and the effort put into producing exciting, mouth-watering toasties. The entrants in 2019 were great. This year the standard is even higher with many venues taking on board feedback from last year regarding eatability, oil content and consistency. 

“We have seen great results from the  ‘less is more brigade’ and equally successful offerings from the ‘go for broke’ crew. Experienced old hands have been matched by entries from pop-ups and food caravans. In all regions, scores were close with many contenders for the finalist spot. Those who are on this list represent the best of the best. 

“Well done, New Zealand. Your toastie entries have brought joy to many of us at a time when a few simple pleasures are much needed.” 

All finalists will receive a case of McClure’s Pickles and dine-in vouchers to give away to their customers. Judging to determine the winner will take place in August with the competition’s toast-master-royale visiting all 12 finalists to sample their creations. He will then liaise with McClure’s Pickles co-founder, Joe McClure, and head judge Kerry Tyack to determine New Zealand’s best toastie of 2020.

Each toastie will again be judged on presentation, effectiveness of preparation technique, eatability, taste, innovation and originality. The supreme winner will be announced on Wednesday, September 3, and will walk away with a year’s worth of pickles, more dine-in vouchers, a toastie trophy – and most importantly, bragging rights to the best toasted sandwich in the country.

* Second time finalist (also 2019)

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