Here's Where to Find This Beer-Brined Brisket Toastie That's Just Been Crowned the Best in NZ
The winning sandwich contains house-smoked beer-brined brisket, McClure's pickles and hop-salted mozzarella.
July 27, 2022
After another year of tense competition, the winner of this year's national toastie cook-off has been crowned — and for the first time in years, a North Island eatery has taken out the top spot.
The Great New Zealand Toastie Takeover, run by McClure's pickles, attracts a heap of weird, wacky and always delicious contributions each year from cafes and restaurants nationwide. This year over 180 eateries participated in the competition, which was then narrowed down to 13 finalists.
It's good news for those heading off on winter escapes to the Bay of Plenty — consider this your first stop. Rich Johns from Rotorua's Okere Falls Store and Craft Beer Garden has won the hotly contested title with his 'Get Smoked, Pickled + Toasted' creation – and brought an end to the South Island's three-year winning streak.
The winning sandwich consists of house-smoked, beer-brined brisket, McClure's pickles, hop-salted mozzarella, smoked cheddar, watercress and horseradish on spent-grain sourdough. That comes alongside pickle brine sour cream and a beer gravy dipping bowl so you can get really saucy – all served up for a very reasonable (in our opinion) $15.50.
It was the second attempt at the win from Johns, who has worked at the Okere Falls Store café for the past six years and didn't make the competition finals for his entry last year. Returning for another attempt this year, he was so determined to use brisket in his toasted sandwich entry, he convinced the café's owner to purchase a smoker.
That investment paid off. The winning sanga will remains on their menu seven days a week (from 10am-4pm) until the end of August – and perhaps beyond.
The previous three winners of the Great New Zealand Toastie Takeover were all from the South Island - Steve MacDougall from Mollies (Hotel d'Urville, Blenheim) in 2021, Romeo Dowling-Mitchell from Dunedin's Hungry Hobos in 2020, and Joseph Walker from the Hokitika Sandwich Company in 2019.
Rich John's 'Get Smoked, Pickled + Toasted' can be found at Okere Falls Store and Craft Beer Garden at 757A State Highway 33, Okere Falls.