Great NZ Toastie Takeover competition returns! –

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

With free entry, the popular competition has gained momentum year on year, with 2022 attracting more than 180 entries and a whopping 140,000 toasts served up over the duration of the search.

Chef Rich Johns from Rotorua’s Okere Falls Store and Craft Beer Garden won the hotly contested title of the country’s top toastie for 2022.

Now in its sixth year, and after a big jump in entries last year, organizers Cook & Nelson and McClure’s Pickles have made the call to cap entries at 250.

As always, the competition remains open to all New Zealand eateries, from cafes, bistros and hotel eateries, to bars, pop-ups, hole-in-the-wall eateries and food trucks.

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

Other competition rules remain the same. Each creation must be sandwiched between two slices of bread and able to be eaten by hand if necessary. The toasted sandwich 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.

Each entry must be on the establishment’s menu for the full duration of the competition, during lunch hours and/or dinner hours, from Friday 14 April to 31 May 2023 inclusive. Finalists must have their toastie on the menu until 20 June 2023 inclusive.

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

The People’s Choice Award will also return in 2023 giving Kiwis the power to vote for their favorite participating eatery and toastie. The eatery with the most votes from the public will take away this year’s People’s Choice Award.

Entries opened on February 28 and closed on March 31. Judging will begin from April 14, with the competition finalists announced on May 31. And the supreme winner will be revealed on June 20.

Last year’s battle saw finalists hail from Auckland, Ngatea, Okere Falls (Rotorua), Ohakune, Havelock North, Palmerston North, Greytown, Nelson, Christchurch, Queenstown, Twizel and Dunedin, and encompass local eateries, rural roadside cafes, breweries, a food truck , a fish farm, a burger bar, an artisan food store and a dedicated toasted sandwich shop.

Head judge Kerry Tyack said last year’s challenge saw imaginations run wild, presenting his team of 30-plus judges with an extremely tough task in choosing the finalists and eventual winner.

“With the competition heating up and a record number of toasties served up to last year, it really feels like the humble toastie has reached the lofty heights of the great Kiwi pie, the whitebait fritter, the perfect pav and the South Island cheese roll.

“In 2023, we’re expecting even more delicious and exciting entries, with the Great New Zealand Toastie Takeover now a firm feature on the local foodie calendar and those taking part reporting a notable increase in custom.”

Chef Rich Johns from Rotorua’s Okere Falls Store and Craft Beer Garden won the hotly contested title of the country’s top toastie for 2022 and had this to say at the time.

“Winning the 2022 Great NZ Toastie Takeover has been a wild ride, going from selling 10-15 toasties a day to 60+ every day, with over 10,000 toasties sold since winning! Best of all we still love making the toastie and seeing the delight on people’s faces upon the first bite.”

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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