Patrick Lam is the best pie-maker in the country. With that comes much glory - and little sleep.
The owner of Patrick's Pie Group Gold Star Bakery in Tauranga was last night named supreme winner in the long running Bakels NZ pie competition. His bacon and egg pie was judged the best of more than 5000 entries from all corners of the country.
Lam - who previously won the same award in 2010 and has a long history of pie-making supremacy - described last night's win as a "dream come true".
But he won't have long to enjoy the honour. He expects a busy shop today and late last night said he planned to get back into the kitchen by 2am or 3am - media permitting.
"I have to rush to go home to make more pies now. I'll be at work if the media doesn't hold me back ... needing interviews."
His secret to a good pie would remain that - except to say it was all about the process of making pastry, rather than the ingredients, Lam said.
Lam is a well-known name in pie-making circles, having won more than 50 pie awards, including the supreme pie award four times - now five - since first entering in 2003.
Along with the supreme award, for which he received a trophy and $7500 cash, Lam won silver for his steak and cheese and gold for his bacon and egg, and was also highly commended for his gourmet fruit pie.
The awards were presented at "The Pies of the Round Table", a medieval-themed gala dinner at the SkyCity Convention Centre in central Auckland.
Top chef and celebrity judge Mark Southon, of TV3's The Café, was stunned by Kiwis' passion for pies. The Brit, who is also executive chef at O'Connell St Bistro in Auckland, said he was impressed by the innovative fillings.
"We saw some interesting skills and flavours, such as alpaca and kimchi; braised lamb shank and butter chicken. There were nostalgic and Kiwi heritage pies like creamed paua, smoked fish and the addition of kumara to some pies.
"One of my personal favourites was a take on the British pork pie from the South Island, and a smoked fish pie that was in the style of a pithivier [a round pie made of two discs of puff pastry with filling between]."
Chief judge Tim Aspinall has been judging pies for 13 years and said the competition had become tougher to judge every year.
"This year's entries were a mix of traditional braised meats, exotic combinations and ethnic fusions.
"What I look for in a winning pie: does it say 'eat me?' Does it have the wow factor and invite me to go further? Is the pastry evenly cooked to a golden brown? Does the aroma and flavour want me to pick it up and eat more? "Patrick's winning bacon and egg pie ticked all these boxes."
Gold award winners
• Mince and Gravy - Mab Chheur, of Angkor Wat Kiwi Bakery & Cafe, Napier
• Steak (Diced) and Gravy - Michael Kuoy, of Counties Bakeries, Pukekohe
• Chicken and Vegetable - Savanchamroeun Ly, of Savans Bakery, Warkworth
• Gourmet Fruit - Bunnarith Sao, of Dairy Flat Bakery, Auckland
• Gourmet Meat - Roger Cathro, of Pak 'n Save, Petone, Wellington
• Vegetarian - Jason Danielson, of The Bakery Wholesale, Wanaka
• Bacon and Egg - Patrick Lam, of Patrick's Pie Group Gold Star Bakery, Tauranga
• Mince and Cheese - Buntheng Wong, of Panmure Bakehouse, Auckland
• Steak and Cheese - Geemun Chao, of Baker Bobs Bakery & Cafe, Greerton, Tauranga
• Potato Top - Roger Cathro, of Pak n Save, Petone, Wellington
• Commercial Wholesale Mince and Cheese - Terry McMahon, of Couplands Bakeries, Hornby, Christchurch
• Cafe Boutique - Brad Dalton, of Ginger Dynamite, Motueka