A "perfect" mince and cheese pie has been crowned best in the country, breaking a controversial two-year winning streak for fruit pies.
Crafted by David Liem, of Greenland Bakery & Cafe in Botany, Auckland, the winning mince and cheese pie held off an exotic field of entries at the 2013 Bakels New Zealand Supreme Pie Awards announced tonight.
A record-breaking 4522 pies from 505 pie-makers throughout the country included ostrich; pulled pork, peas, puha & scrumpy cider; duck breast, orange, bacon, mushroom & cream; tiger prawns, calamari, scallops & gurnard; lamb rump, beetroot, onion, lemon zest & dried thyme; and raspberry macaroon pie, red velvet pastry, raspberries, chocolate, cream & coconut.
But this year's Supreme Pie Awards saw a resurgence of the 'classic' categories - with 634 mince and cheese, and a whopping 682 steak and cheese pies submitted for judging.
With hundreds of mince and cheese pies to choose from, judge and Bakels executive chairman Duncan Loney, known in the industry as 'the Pie Man', described the winner as "impeccable".
"It was well rounded and well flavoured, with a perfect balance between the strength of the mince and the cheese," he said.
"The pastry was good quality, with a crunchy flaky top, robust rim, and a lovely even colour. It stood out.
"The Kiwi love affair with the mince and cheese pie is certainly continuing."
Celebrity judge, chef Michael Meredith, described the mince and cheese winner, announced at a dinner tonight at The Langham Hotel in Auckland, as "a classic".
"The balance between the pastry and filling was perfect - it brought me back to my old school days, the visits to the tuck shop."
While Greenland Bakery & Cafe has won multiple awards over the years, this is the first time Liem has taken out the Supreme spot.
Liem proved his prowess with vegetable pies too, taking home a Silver award in the vegetarian category with his broccoli, pumpkin, carrot, spinach, capsicum and mushroom, and a Bronze award in the chicken and vegetable category.
The 22 judges spent a long day in the kitchens last Thursday judging the pies which were blind coded in 12 categories which included 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; commercial wholesale; and cafe boutique.
Chief judge Tim Aspinall said the competition this year was tight, with just a few points separating the top category pies.
"The beauty of these awards is that anyone from anywhere can win - from small bakers to the big commercial ones. There are so many finely crafted pies on offer, and every year new bakers enter."
Award winners were spread throughout the country with 22 winners (included Highly Commended) from Auckland, eight from Tauranga, four from the Hawkes Bay, four from Christchurch, three apiece from the Waikato and Taupo, and one each for Dunedin, Northland, Wanganui, Rotorua and Wellington.
The Gold Award winners were:
* Mince & Gravy: Japan You, Champion Bakery & Caf, Wellsford
* Steak, Vegetables & Gravy: Cameron Butchart, Butchart's Home Cookery, Wanganui
* Chicken & Vegetable: Tai Khau, Better Quality Pies Ltd, Rotorua
* Gourmet Fruit: Vong Hean, Mairangi Bay Bakery, Mairangi Bay - Brandied Apple & Apricot with Sweet Grape
* Gourmet Meat: Buntha Meng, Euro Patisserie Torbay, Torbay - Chicken, Cranberry & Camembert Cheese
* Vegetarian: Patrick Lam, Patricks Pies, Tauranga - Stir Fry Vegetables, Roast Pumpkin, Potato, Kumara in Spinach Cream Sauce
* Bacon & Egg: Chad Meehan, Kidds Cafe & Bakery, Christchurch
* Mince & Cheese: David Liem, Greenland Bakery & Cafe, Botany, Auckland
* Steak & Cheese: Roger Cathro, Pak'n'Save Petone, Wellington
* Seafood: Vong Hean, Mairangi Bay Bakery, Mairangi Bay - Salmon, Scallops, Leeks & Crab Meat
* Commercial Wholesale: Michael Welch, Dad's Pies, Silverdale, Auckland
* Caf Boutique: Ben Walker, Sweet Kitchen, Merivale, Christchurch - Apple, Vanilla Bean, Frangipane, Rum & Cinnamon
* Supreme: David Liem, Greenland Bakery & Caf, Botany, Auckland - Mince & Cheese