New Zealand's ultimate sandwich maker offers her best sammy building advice

Catherine Milford's winning Beef & Pastrami melt.
Catherine Milford's winning Beef & Pastrami melt. Photo credit: Supplied

The winner of New Zealand's Ultimate Sandwich competition has offered fellow foodies her best tips for building the best sammy.

With food writers and bloggers all competing for carb-glory, the competition was taken out last week by Catherine Milford - food writer, editor and blogger at Eatscooksreads.

Milford's Smoked Beef & Pastrami Melt was served on freshly warmed sourdough, with layers of beef, cheddar, pastrami and jalapeno colby cheese, topped with vegetables and sauces.

It was finished with black pepper and some Gran Padano.

Milford told Newshub she "didn't have much of a plan" upon heading into the evening.

"I was completely winging it," she said.

"That's how I like to cook... [asking] 'what's in the fridge [and] what am I gonna do with it'."

The cook, whose best advice is "to always have good bread", took along some fresh sourdough from Farro and her secret weapon: her homemade Korean BBQ sauce.           

"I'd made it a couple of days before and I thought, 'that's going to be brilliant in a sandwich'," she explained.

Milford also revealed her inspiration came from that takeaway sandwich staple: Subway.

"I have a 13-year-old boy who could live on Subway, and I was like, 'I'm going to make a really posh Subway'," she laughed.

It obviously paid off, with Milford's sandwich the pick of the evening, earning her $500 in cash and a foodie prize hamper.

The competition was organised by Farmland Foods and held at Eat My Lunch headquarters. It was judged by Auckland chef Michael Meredith, who closed his much-loved restaurant Meredith's in December.

"The meat, melted cheese and the home made Korean BBQ sauce worked really well together, [and] the warm sourdough provided a lovely texture," said Meredith.

"There was just the right amount of spice. I could imagine enjoying it with a cold glass of beer."

So, what are Milford's tips for those attempting the same sammy at home? 

"Just don't let the bread burn," she said.

"Make sure that when you're warming bread, it's warm and not toasted too stiff - just warm with the tiniest bit of texture.

"And don't overload the cheese, otherwise it all falls off and you'll have burnt, bubbling crap all over your grill."

She also warned against the temptation to overfill your sandwich, which she said hers was "on the verge of".

"Don't ever just pile things on; really think about your flavours and if something's not working for you, change it. Use what you love."

If you want to have a go at recreating Milford's winning sandwich at home, the recipe can be found below:

The Winning Beef & Pastrami Cheese Melt

Serves 4. Ready in 20 minutes.


  • 1 small sourdough loaf
  • 1 pack Farmland Foods Deli Cut Smoked Beef
  • 1 pack Farmland Foods Deli Cut Pastrami
  • 4 slices Dairyworks Cheddar Natural Slices
  • 4 slices Dairyworks Jalapeno and Colby Natural Slices
  • 1 pink onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tomato, thinly sliced
  • Crispy cos leaves
  • Handful baby spinach
  • 2 tablespoons Korean BBQ Sauce
  • Squeeze kewpie mayonnaise
  • Salt & pepper
  • Grana Padano, to serve


  1. Heat grill to medium-high. Halve sourdough lengthways and place under the grill, crusts up. Toast very lightly until warm.
  2. Remove from the grill and turn bread. Place smoked beef on one side of the bread and top with cheddar. Add pastrami and jalapeno slices and melt under the grill until cheese is bubbling.
  3. Remove from the heat and top melted cheese and meat with lettuce, tomato and onion. Add a generous spread of Korean barbecue sauce and a sprinkle of seasoning. Close sandwich and grate a little Grana Padano over the top to finish.