The country is a step closer to discovering the best cheese toastie in the land with the 12 finalists in the 2020 Great New Zealand Toastie Takeover eagerly waiting the winner announcement on September 10.

From Auckland to Dunedin, the finalists are a mixture of established cafes, hole-in-the-wall hideaways, tapas bars and container eateries, but they all share one thing in common – a dedication to the craft of the toasted sandwich.

In the Waikato, Hayes Common in Hamilton has delivered a unique vegetarian entry that has been hugely popular with its diners, as they look to secure a double for Hamilton with Cinnamon cafe in Saint Andrews recently winning the Meyers Melt Challenge for the best cheese toastie.

The Hayes Common entree named "South of the Bombays" sarnie is based on the punchy street side sandwiches found in Mumbai commonly known as a Bombay sandwich.

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The sandwich is filled with Meyer fenugreek Gouda, McClure's Sweet & Spicy Pickles, mozzarella, mint, chaat Masala, spinach and cucumber made with Volare turmeric and cumin loaf topped with a crispy onion and McClure's Pickle bhaji, and spicy tamarind sauce.

Hayes Common waiter Matt O'Brian with their creation South of the Bombays. Photo / Tom Rowland
Hayes Common waiter Matt O'Brian with their creation South of the Bombays. Photo / Tom Rowland

Executive chef and owner Lisa Quarrie said the eatery wanted to do something a bit different with the toastie compared to others.

"We wanted to use our own style, so we looked at the products we had to use as part of the competition, and starting with the tumeric Volare loaf that led us on a bit of journey with a India flavoured route," Quarrie said.

"This sandwiched just stood out as an obvious choice because it has a lot of ingredients that make it pop, and we changed it up a little bit so it could be more of a winter toasted sandwich here. It sounds like there is a lot going on but it works in nicely together."

Quarrie said the best toastie challenge was good to have ongoing in New Zealand right now as the competition, along with the Meyers Cheese Melt challenge, promoted using local products.

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"It allows us to show how much of a food region the Waikato really is and promote all the different products that we produce here."

In the Coromandel, Flock Kitchen & Bar in Tairua have also been nominated as a finalist. Their toastie the "Flockin Good iDEER" is a sourdough bread, house made brie, venison, house made plum chutney, McClure's Spicy Pickles, baby spinach served with house made potato chips.

Across the competition over 20,000 cheese toasties were served up across 80 eateries in July as participating eateries vied for a spot in the final round.

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