The Public Office has toasted their way to the finals of New Zealand’s annual toasted sandwich competition.
The Ngātea cafe/restaurant is one of 13 finalists out of 180 entrants selected in this year’s Great NZ Toastie Takeover for their creation, The Smoky Pork and Pickle.
Co-owner Sarah Sheehy told The Profile she was “super excited” with the result after falling short of reaching last year’s finals with their toastie, The Pickle Ripple.
“We have learnt lots of lessons and figured out ways to perfect the technique,” she said. “There’s a few things like making sure that you’ve got the right fillings so you don’t want anything that’s going to be too fatty or that will soak through the bread too much, and having some sort of sauce or chutney in it is always good.
“Then having the best quality ingredients as well – all the ingredients in it other than the bread and the cheese are all homemade… and there’s lots of love.”
For toasties to enter the competition, they needed to be toasted between two slices of bread, able to be eaten by hand, needed to contain cheese (or a vegan substitute) and McClure’s pickles.
All remaining ingredients were for the toastie’s maker to choose.
The Smoky Pork and Pickle features apple cider braised pork, smoky wood sauce, melted gouda and McClure’s Sweet & Spicy Pickles topped with crispy fried pickles.
Co-owner and head chef Simon Sheehy engineered the toastie.
He said inspiration started with the pork and he found the pickles were a great product to work with.
“It’s one of my favourite proteins… slow roasting the pork in apple cider made it quite a nice flavour, and the pickles and the cheese complimented it so it was great,” he said. “The smoky wood sauce is a highlight, it’s almost like a smoky burger sauce.”
Sarah said the Smoky Pork and Pickle had been on the Public Office’s menu since mid-April and they had received “lots of good feedback” about it from the public.
“We definitely sell a lot more of them than other menu items.
“We loved the whole vibe of everything that goes on and people calling in and going: ‘I just want to try your toastie’ or ‘wow you’re in the competition, that’s really cool I’m going to try your toastie’.
“We get a lot of people that travel through, so a lot of people spread the word.”
The competition began with all toastie entrants being scored out of 100 by a panel of anonymous judges before finalists were selected. Sarah said their toastie would now be judged again before the supreme winner is selected on July 27. “It’s really cool to see the other finalists and what they’ve put up and it’s really cool to be part of that group of people too,” she said.
“We make sure that everything is consistently perfect with the toasties, so it was pretty cool to be judged anonymously when something you’re serving from the kitchen all the time and then someone goes ‘wow this is awesome’.”