Pie award winner braces for new business

By Brendan Manning

Mince and cheese pies at the judging of the New Zealand Bakels Supreme Pie Awards in Auckland. Photo / Richard Robinson
Mince and cheese pies at the judging of the New Zealand Bakels Supreme Pie Awards in Auckland. Photo / Richard Robinson

The country's new supreme pie award winner is bracing for a rush of business this morning after his "perfect" mince and cheese creation was crowned the nation's best pie.

Supreme pie award winner David Liem, said he was "very excited and happy" his savoury treat took out top spot at last night's 2013 Bakels New Zealand Supreme Pie Awards at Auckland's Langham Hotel.

Mr Liem held off competition from a record-breaking 4522 pies from 505 pie-makers throughout the country to clinch the award.

The win for the humble mince and cheese pie broke a controversial two-year winning streak for fruit pies.

The secret to his success was rolling the pastry fresh and using good, fresh ingredients, Mr Liem revealed.

A baker with 10 years' experience, he usually made 200 pies a week for Greenland Bakery & Cafe in Botany, Auckland, but expected to be making a few more today.

Other entries at the awards included ostrich; pulled pork, peas, puha & scrumpy cider; duck breast, orange, bacon, mushroom tiger prawns, calamari, scallops & gurnard; lamb rump, beetroot, onion, lemon zest & dried thyme; and raspberry macaroon pie, red velvet pastry, raspberries, chocolate, cream & coconut.

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 Mr Liem has taken out the Supreme spot.

Mr 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

- APNZ

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