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Judgement Day Approaches for 4000 Plus Pies

Judgement Day Approaches for 4000 Plus Pies

The heat is on to find the country’s perfect pie as more than 18 judges poke, prod, dissect and chomp their way on Thursday (July 21) through a record-breaking 4,400 pies which have been entered from over 380 bakeries across the nation, in the 2011 Bakels New Zealand Supreme Pie Awards.

Which filling – bacon and egg, steak and cheese, or the nation’s perennial favourite- mince and cheese, will dominate in 2011? And which entrants’ pastry will prove to be Supreme?

These will be the questions on all observers’ lips as judging begins early in the morning at Bakels’ Penrose bakery. Pies will be pouring into the bakery all week from bakers and chefs from as far afield as the Far North to the Deep South. One of the most prolific areas is the Bay of Plenty/Coromandel with 598 pies entered from the region.

The Bakels New Zealand Supreme Pie Awards are quite simply the country’s most high profile and popular food contest. Now in their 15th year, the awards are bigger and bolder than ever before with this year’s entries peaking just above last year’s record breaking 4,336 entries.

Judging is a mammoth day-long task at Bakels’ Penrose bakery with all pies coded for “blind judging.’ Well known chefs and culinary experts make up the strong judging panel, with this year’s chief judge being Grant Wilson, owner of renowned Maketu Pies, and food writer and TV personality, Allyson Gofton, this year’s celebrity judge.

The pies will be judged in 11 categories which include mince and gravy; steak, vegetables and gravy; steak and cheese; chicken and vegetables; gourmet meat; vegetarian; bacon and egg; mince and cheese; gourmet fruit; seafood; and commercial wholesale.

Judging is rigorous and is based on such factors as presentation, pie bottom pastry; pie top pastry, pie filling (visual) and most importantly, the pie flavour profile. Pies must weigh in at the correct weight (between 250-300g depending on category). All pies except gourmet fruit must be topped with flaky/puff pastry.

Forty five awards are up for grabs, with prizes including $7,500 cash and the coveted Supreme Piemaker Trophy, while Gold award winners receive $1,000 cash.

The competition is popular among punters as well, with the pie market one of the most lucrative food sectors in the country, worth in excess of $140 million according to the latest NZ Economic Survey.

What is the perennial appeal of pies for Kiwis? Is it their taste? Is it purely convenience? Are they simply the best comfort food in the world? Or do we even care, seeing we scoff them in their millions: around 75 million according to the food industry?

And from humble to gourmet, from steak and mince to vegetarian to fruit, there are a plethora of pies to suit all tastes.

Many foodie observers thought the arrival of an array of fast food competitors, from fried chicken to pizzas, as well as cheap ethnic meals, would mark the demise of the humble pie.

However, Duncan Loney, CEO and Chairman of Bakels, says he is not in the least surprised by the continuing popularity of pies, which he describes as practically the national dish.

“I think people are going back to traditional tasty foods like pies and quite rightly, regard them as quality food. I think people are also enjoying the sheer variety of pies, including gourmet pies, which are now available. Between the traditional and the innovative, the pie market remains very buoyant.”

Nor is he surprised by the continuing popularity of the Pie Awards, which he has been involved with for the complete 15 years of their existence.

“I think the Pie Awards are popular because everyone has an opinion about pies. There was a huge debate last year whether peas should go in bacon and egg pies. It created as much debate on radio talk back as Lara Bingle’s meltdown. Another debate was whether an onion can be described as a vegetable in a pie.”

The Bakels New Zealand Supreme Pie Award winners will be announced at a dinner at the Rendevous Hotel in Auckland on Tuesday evening, July 26. “That Guy,” Leigh Hart, will be MC. For the presentation of the awards he will be joined on stage by some of New Zealand’s best known foodies and celeb pie lovers.


© Scoop Media

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