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 incredibly, the mild-mannered Cambodian refugee confessed: "I honestly don't know anything about pies".

Lam was unavailable for comment about his win before publication but previously told the Bay of Plenty Times, the secret to an award-winning pie came down to "a good pastry and a good filling" - despite his modest attempt to claim a lack of knowledge.

Pat Lam's supreme winning mince and cheese pie. Photo / Supplied
Pat Lam's supreme winning mince and cheese pie. Photo / Supplied

In an interview shortly after his 2018 win, Lam spoke of how he was forced to flee Cambodia with his family when he was 5. They lived in a refugee camp in Vietnam until he was 19. At 15, Lam watched his older sister die after she was given the wrong injection to cure a cold.

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"[At that time] we don't have doctors, we don't have good medical conditions. Yeah, it was just so sad for us."

Supreme Mince and Cheese: Celebrity chef Gareth Stewart, Lay Phan Ho, Patrick Lam and NZ Bakels managing director Brent Kersel. Photo / File
Supreme Mince and Cheese: Celebrity chef Gareth Stewart, Lay Phan Ho, Patrick Lam and NZ Bakels managing director Brent Kersel. Photo / File

In 1989, Lam and his family-of-six fled to Sydney. Eight years later, they moved to Auckland and Lam started his own lunch bar in Avondale. Here, Lam's love of pies was born.

Lam now owns Patrick's Pies in Bethlehem, Tauranga Crossing plus Gold Star Bakery on Old Taupo Rd in Rotorua. Lam has regularly featured in the awards since winning his first supreme best pie title in 2003 for a mince and cheese entry.

Tauranga baker Pat Lam shares his secret to making New Zealand's best pie. Photo / File
Tauranga baker Pat Lam shares his secret to making New Zealand's best pie. Photo / File

The bakeries produce about 500 pies a day each with at least 26 different flavours.

Lam said the secret to pie success was "that you make it right".

He attributed the secret to his own success to his parents.

"It's because of my Mum and Dad's sacrifice in Vietnam and all the work they have done to get where we are now. It's cliche but my Dad is my hero."

"[I'm a] hard worker, not that clever but [I] try to create something new all the time.

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"I'm a refugee and I make the best pies in the country."

Judges spent nine hours tasting 5326 pies, entered by 553 bakers.

Bakels managing director Brent Kersel said Lam's pie was "absolute perfection" and the best he had ever tasted.

"The pastry was golden, with perfect lamination, flaky, and a delight to bite into. The filling though surprised us. It was like the cheese had been swirled through the mince and the way it blended in your mouth as a result was exceptional, delicious."

Kersel said it was interesting that the humble mince and cheese combination should win "but then it proves that if you get the formula right ... yes, mince and cheese can out-shine others".

"It takes a pie king to show us that and we congratulate Patrick on his success."

Lam has won the supreme trophy, two gold and two bronze awards and $9500 in prize money.

Pat Lam's supreme winning pies
2019 - Mince and cheese
2018 - Roast pork, mushroom and cheese
2016 - Bacon and egg
2010 - Bacon and egg
2009 - Creamy bacon, mushroom and cheese
2004 - Mince and cheese
2003 - Mince and cheese

Where to get the best pies in the Bay of Plenty; local pie award winners:

Steak and cheese

Bronze award - Fast & Fresh Bakery, Taupō

Highly commended - Baker Bobs Bakery and Cafe, Greerton, Tauranga

Steak and gravy
Silver award - Fast & Fresh Bakery, Taupō

Bacon and egg
Gold award - Patrick's Pies/Goldstar Bakery, Tauranga/Rotorua
Silver award - Waihī Bakery, Waihī

Mince and cheese
Gold award - Patrick's Pies/Goldstar Bakery, Tauranga/Rotorua
Silver award - Baker Bobs Bakery and Cafe, Greerton, Tauranga

Vegetarian
Bronze award - Patrick's Pies/Goldstar Bakery, Tauranga/Rotorua

Supreme award
Mince and cheese - Patrick's Pies/Goldstar Bakery, Tauranga/Rotorua


We asked people on the street what their favourite pie was. Here's what they had to say:

Paul Whitehead. Photo / Kiri Gillespie
Paul Whitehead. Photo / Kiri Gillespie

"Steak and cheese - the wife's."
Paul Whitehead, Tauranga

Darrell Davis. Photo / Kiri Gillespie
Darrell Davis. Photo / Kiri Gillespie

"It would be butter chicken. I just like butter chicken."
Darrell Davis, Tauranga

Carlton Moonie. Photo / Kiri Gillespie
Carlton Moonie. Photo / Kiri Gillespie

"Bacon and egg, or fish pie."
Carlton Moonie, Tauranga

Steve Clancy. Photo / Kiri Gillespie
Steve Clancy. Photo / Kiri Gillespie

"Steak and mushroom."
Steve Clancy, Tauranga