Bay of Plenty baker Pat Lam has been crowned New Zealand's pie king - for the seventh time. Lam was named winner of the Bakels New Zealand Supreme Pie Award on Tuesday night at a glitzy gala dinner in Auckland, where his mince and cheese creation was named the nation's best. The win cements Lam's place as Bakels' most awarded baker. But what is the secret to his success? Bay of Plenty Times reporter Kiri Gillespie finds out.
Want to know the trick to making the country's best pie?
Add the cheese to the middle of your mince pie filling.
Bay of Plenty baker Pat Lam said he believed this new method, thought up to help prevent disqualification by cheese leakage, helped seal his success as New Zealand's pie king this week.
Lam was announced the winner of this year's Bakels New Zealand Supreme Pie Award on Tuesday night for his mince and cheese creation. Twelve hours later at his Bethlehem store Patrick's Pies, punters were double-parked outside and lining up around the inner perimeter of the store waiting to try the pie for themselves.
Lam told the Bay of Plenty Times he had only had a couple of hours' sleep after the win but was amazed and humbled with the accolade.
"We first won supreme with mince and cheese in 2003 [and again in 2004]. It's taken 15 years to come back and win another one."
Lam said the recipe was much the same from all those years ago but there was a new trick he tried this year.
"Normally with mince and cheese, you put the cheese on top (of the filling). But when you enter a competition and the cheese leaks out, you are disqualified. We decided to change it a little bit and put cheese in the middle."
Lam and his team worked for 24 hours straight ahead of the competition to ensure perfection.
One pie to rule them all - Pat Lam crowned Lord of the Pies
Best pie maker in New Zealand: I don't know anything about pies
"It's very hard to make a perfect pie. You can make a pie easily but to make a perfect pie ... we have to take time and prepare.
"We have been trying very hard every year."
Lam is now officially New Zealand's most awarded pie maker but the competition was "not just about the award".
"It brings up our skills and is great for business."
Outside his store earlier today Joshua Phillips said he and his workmates were stoked for Lam.
"We just work down the road and come here every day. Pat's definitely got the best quality pie. His win is well deserved."
Rob Kerr said she only had a pie about once every six months but when she did, it was always a Pat Lam pie "because they're so good".
Dan French said he was new to Tauranga and had not yet tried a pie from Patrick's Pies.
However, after seeing the morning's news about Lam's win, he decided to stop in and "see just how good they are".
In addition to the Bethlehem store, Lam owns a Patrick's Pies at Tauranga Crossing plus Gold Star Bakery on Old Taupo Rd in Rotorua.
The bakeries produce about 500 pies a day each with at least 26 different flavours.
Competition judges spent nine hours tasting 5326 pies, entered by 553 bakers.
Tauranga reigns supreme with New Zealand's best pies
Bay of Plenty baker Pat Lam may be King of the Pies, having just won a record seven supreme titles, but Tauranga is home to another award-winning mince and cheese pie baker.
Baker Bobs Bakery and Cafe in Greerton was awarded the silver prize for their mince and cheese pie in Tuesday night's Bakels New Zealand Supreme Pie Award.
Owner Geemun Chao said despite Lam's incredible record at having just won his seventh supreme pie title, he did not want Lam to give up anytime soon.
"[He] makes us work hard. We try harder to win gold and supreme. Hopefully, someday we will win supreme. We never give up because our customers say our pies are good," Chao said.
"We worked 17 hours for the pie competition: 8am to 1am at night when making pies for the competition, to do our best to win.
"The competition improves the quality of the pies and brings more customers to our business."
Chao said a good mince and cheese pie came down to good pasty and a good quality filling.