Fancy a smoked eel toastie? The Great New Zealand Toastie Takeover returns for 2023


<em>Photograph by Babiche Martens</em>
Photograph by Babiche Martens
The search for New Zealand's best toasted sandwich is on, with eateries across the country vying for the top toastie title. 

With flavours like smoked eel, BBQ vegan pork and confit pulled dug legs, eateries across the country are pulling out all the stops in this year’s Great New Zealand Toastie Takeover.

The annual competition, which was established in 2018 by McClure’s Pickle, sees a panel of 30+ judges vote for the top 12 toasties then supreme winner.

Over three months, toastie fans will be able to eat their way around the country, with a record 185 eateries taking part, from local sandwich spots and food trucks to fine-dining restaurants and cocktail bars.

The competition requires each toastie to be sandwiched between two slices of bread, contain cheese (or a vegan substitute) and pickles from McClure’s Pickles range. Other than that, chefs are able to come up with all manner of culinary ideas and unique flavour combinations.

Ponsonby restaurant KOL is serving the ‘Eel-legal Toastie’ made with smoked eel with fennel, capers, McClure’s pickles, smoked cheese and toasted in an Indian jaffle maker. True to their name, Hello Pickle in Whangārei has come up with a pickle brined pulled pork, glazed ham, pickle mustard McClure’s Sweet & Spicy Pickles drizzled in butter and toasted till crisp. Down south, Well Bean Cafe in Wanaka has got their take on a Reuben with wild deer, slow-cooked in a secret blend of herbs and spices.

Plant-based eaters won’t miss out as there are 10 vegan and five vegetarian entries this year, featuring innovative flavours like crispy tofu, roasted ‘duck’ and lemon roasted chickpeas.

The top 12 finalists will be revealed in late May and the supreme winner will be announced on 20 June.

For a list of competing eateries, head to


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