Baking superstar Patrick Lam was as surprised as anyone when he found out he had won the inaugural Bakels Legendary Sausage Roll competition.
He didn't know about the win until "they just turned up with a trophy and a cameraman" on Thursday.
Anyone who has ever visited Goldstar Patrick's Pies will have found the walls of his Tauranga and Rotorua bakeries lined with certificates and seven Bakels Supreme Pie Awards trophies.
Lam is New Zealand's most awarded baker and a new, shiny trophy will join the display and proclaim him the best sausage roll baker in the country.
Lam has a team of five making his pies and sausage rolls each day.
"We didn't know what the judges were looking for, it was a bit of a blind entry. We are so lucky."
When asked what his secret to success was, Lam said: "Our pastry is really good, really fluffy. We also do a lot to balance the flavours."
Sausage rolls from 606 bakeries around the country were judged "blind" in Auckland yesterday.
Judges were looking for a traditional sausage roll of specific weight and length with perfect, beautifully laminated pastry and a great-tasting filling.
After intense scrutiny, the mountain was reduced to 10 finalists before a fresh team of judges, including celebrity judge Jeremy Wells, got down to the business of finding a legendary sausage roll.
NZ Bakels managing director Brent Kersel said the competition lived up to his expectations. Entries were received from across New Zealand, including 80 from the South Island.
"We sort of planned for how big this competition could be. Initially, we were going to include it in the Bakels NZ Supreme Pie Awards, which had to be postponed due to Covid-19. We're pleased now that we didn't because it turned out to be bigger than we thought.
"We doubled the number of judges two weeks after the entries opened and ended up with 606 entries. That was an amazing response."
Kersel said the lengths bakers went to with innovative fillings within the traditional sausage roll criteria had encouraged them to consider adding a gourmet category next year.
"People eat with their eyes and food has to look good first. If you can get a sausage roll to look good and back it up with flavour you know that you're onto a winner."
He said it had been a tough year for bakeries because of the impact of Covid-19 and this competition was to encourage people to get back into the bakeries and buy pies and sausage rolls.
"These bakers suffered for a few weeks and we're in a position where we like to support our trade and hopefully this is going to help get them back on the track.
"This is not about Bakels, it's about making sure that we have an industry that goes from strength to strength."
Gold - Patrick Lam, Goldstar Patrick's Pies, Tauranga.
Silver – Marijke Isley, The School Shop, Takaka.
Bronze – Michael Meaclem, Michaels Bakery-Hillmorton, Christchurch.
Highly Commended – Bunna Hout, Euro Patisserie, Torbay, Auckland.
5th – Rob Smith, Smoko Bakery, New Plymouth.
6th - Tarachhay Lai, Angkor Bakery, Māngere, Auckland.
7th - Wayne Reni, Percival Street Bakery, Rangiora.
8th - Chantol Kak, Burwood Bakery, Christchurch.
9th - Oudorm Lai, Corner Bakery Hillsborough, Auckland.
10th - Seyha Seng, Randwich Park Bakery Coffee, Manurewa, Auckland.