Title of NZ's top toastie of 2022 awarded to untrained Rotorua chef

Source: 1News

Everyone has their own top toastie secrets. Butter on the outside, a mix of cheese or even a hot pan over the sandwich press.

But not everyone can claim the title of the best toasted sandwich in the country.

The crowd favourite is the brainchild of an untrained chef and former wedding photographer in Rotorua.

Okere Falls Store’s winning sandwich has the perfect balance of intense flavour, combining melt-in-your-mouth brisket, layers of cheesy goodness, and the zing of horseradish and pickles.

“We call it the ‘Smoked, Pickled and Toasted’. It's kind of a little play on getting smoked, pickled and toasted - responsibly, of course,” chef Rich Johns told Seven Sharp.

The winning sandwich starts with Okere Falls Lager, which can only be found locally.

One of the key ingredients in the winning toastie is the 24-hour smoked brisket, which is brined in the lager and rubbed with a blend of secret spices before going in the pellet smoker.

But it’s not just the brisket that gets the beer treatment, with the spent grain being sent off to the Bread Asylum, in the Bay of Plenty, to make beer sourdough.

The sandwich is coated in a layer of cheese and brisket, followed by a dash of horseradish and a generous helping of McClure’s pickles. It’s then topped off with some watercress and hop-salted mozzarella.

Coming in at $15 a pop, 2022’s best toasted sandwich won’t break the bank, either.

He said he started out as a barista, but “couldn't really make coffee to save myself”.

“One day, I moved down to the food end and they were like ‘Wow, you’re not bad at this. Do you want to stay on food?’.

I was like, ‘Yeah, I want to stay on food.’”

Johns said he’s proud of his award-winning sandwich.

“All that hard work’s come together and we’ve been rewarded for it.”

Just 60 sandwiches can be smoked per day, making it a delicacy which could soon be hard to come by.