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A Dunedin chef is confident he makes the best toasted sandwich in the nation.
Hungry Hobos owner Romeo Dowling-Mitchell created the "Bat Out of Hell" toasted sandwich in his George St eatery.
He was "chuffed"when he was told last week his sandwich was one of 12 finalists in the annual Great New Zealand Toastie Takeover.
"I haven’t tried the other ones but I feel mine is the best," Mr Dowling-Mitchell said.
His sandwich ingredients include homemade meatloaf (hence its name), creamy mashed potato, gravy, pickles and aged cheddar, toasted between herb-buttered ciabatta.
His toasted sandwich was comfort food rather than something with pretentious ingredients such as confit duck in a balsamic reduction.
The first year of business was "hard going" - as expected - but the past six months "have started to crank".
"I’m on better money now than what I would be if I was working as a chef, which is so rewarding after working your ass off for a year doing 80-hour weeks."
His 15-year career included cooking for Team New Zealand at the America's Cup in San Francisco and as a private chef for entrepreneur Kim Dotcom for six months.
"He was a chilled-out dude and inclusive - he was like ‘once you’ve finished cooking you jump in the pool and join the party’ — which was cool."
He was then a chef on super yachts in Spain.
When he returned to New Zealand he worked for company The Last Supper, which feeds musicians and their entourages.
As part of the job, he travelled to Dunedin to cook for artists such as Aerosmith and Paul Simon.
"I got a taste for Dunedin - it’s a really cool city."
The supreme winner of the toasted sandwich competition will be announced on September 3.
The prize includes a year’s supply of McClure’s pickles.
This month, a judge would travel across New Zealand to eat the 12 finalists’ toasted sandwiches.
The finalists would not be told when the judge was in their eatery sampling a sandwich, he said.
"So you have to make sure every single sandwich is on point - which we do anyway."