Why pay for a gourmet toastie?

How often would you go to a restaurant and order a cheese toastie? It’s hardly considered ‘gourmet’, and spending money on something you could easily whip up at home is hardly logical. Right?


On it’s last day, the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival debunks the myth that cheese toasties are just quick snack material with a unique event dedicated entirely to the dish. Reputable Melbourne chefs Jesse Gerner, Mauro Callegarie, Anthony Femia and Neil Rocke set up shop in Queensbridge Square and offered affordable yet incredibly delectable gourmet cheese toasties.

But why? The standard cheese toastie is already everyone’s favourite snack: crunchy on the outside with a soft melted cheese filling – it can’t get any better, can it?

Evidently it can.

Using produce from some of Australia’s best artisans, the chefs successfully classed up a dish generally known as a stay-at-home, lazy-day snack. Instead of sticking to the far more commonplace cheddar and mozzarella fillings, the chefs opted for gruyere cheese and worked on sandwiches with elaborate fillings, ranging from a subtle leek flavour to a heavy and meaty mince pork filling. Chef Neil Rocke, in particular, had the ingenious idea to add béchamel sauce to his creation, upping the creamy, savoury factor of melted cheese we have come to expect from any toastie. Presented lavishly on a rustic wooden board, the sandwiches definitely looked the part, and the generous serving did not disappoint.

Now that’s why you buy a gourmet toastie.

Image by: Lekhaa Nair

However, the organisation of the venue could definitely be improved on.

With only a small corner of the Urban Dairy allotted to these chefs, the cheese toastie station is considerably easy to miss as it may be dwarfed by the neighbouring ice cream pop-up store and bar. In fact, you’d have to circle Queensbridge Square twice before finally catching sight of the cluster of chefs in the corner.

Additionally, the system in place for ordering, payment, and collection was scattered at best. Although a festival is a far cry from a restaurant, there should, regardless, be a basic system that allows customers to order, pay for and collect their dishes without confusion. The disorganisation made the venue confusing and in the hubbub, it’s hardly easy to enjoy the ambience.

But was the toastie worth the trouble? I’d say so.

Originally written 18 March 2016

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