The first call for the New Zealand pie awards has been made, with hopes the Bay of Plenty can again reign supreme.
The Bakels New Zealand Supreme Pie Awards are the biggest food awards in the country, hugely valuable to New Zealand bakers.
"It is the pinnacle of the industry. It takes dedication and a lot of hard work to make a pie worthy of winning this award. It shows real skill," said Brent Kersel, managing director at NZ Bakels.
Mr Kersel has judged the prestigious awards for 10 years. Texture, colour, flavour and gravy proportion to meat are the top factors when looking for the wow factor in a pie's filling.
Over his many years of judging, Mr Kersel has seen quality standards of all pies lift to a very high level. When asked what made a good quality baker Mr Kersel said simply, "Passion. It is a craft, a love of good food."
More than 5000 pies are expected to be judged from more than 550 bakers around the country.
Winner of the 2015 Supreme award, New World Greenmeadows, is still experiencing huge demand for its winning potato top pie.
"Its been fantastic for the business, the first two weeks after winning the award, sales were massive, and we haven't really had a drop off since", said owner and operator Iain Beaton.
Last year, pie-maker Bunchoeun "Bun" Keo from Mount Maunganui's One Tree Bakery won a gold award for his steak (diced) and gravy pie. He was highly commended for his bacon and egg pie.
Bunthy Te, from Angkor Wat Bakery and Cafe in Katikati, won a gold award with their bok choy, carrot, parsnip and kumara vegetarian pie.
Pat Lam from Patrick's Pie Group took home two awards. He won bronze for both his gourmet fruit pie, filled with Cointreau, pear and apple cherry; and mince and cheese.
The Supreme winner will receive a cheque for $7,500 and the much sought-after trophy. Gold winners will receive a cheque for $1,000.
Five facts about pies:
• NZ households spend a staggering $110 million on meat pies every year and approximately $11 million on fruit pies.
• The average Kiwi eats 12 meat pies a year!
• Pies were once called "coffins" and used as edible food containers given to servants to eat once the pie contents had been consumed by their employers.
• The origin of the word 'pie' is believed to come from 'magpie'. The bird is known as a collector of things, much like the contents of a pie!
• People of Gloucester send the royal family eel pie every jubilee or coronation. This strange tradition dates back to the Middle Ages when eel was considered a treat.