A nation holds its breath - best pie in NZ to be announced

By Jessica Tyson

The best pie in the country will be announced tonight at the 23rd Bakels New Zealand Supreme Pie Awards.

A total of 553 bakers entered 5,326 pies into the competition.  The baker with the best pie overall will be named the Bakels NZ Supreme Pie Award winner.

New Zealand Bakels managing director Brent Kersel says there is set criteria when it came to judging each pie, which took over 10 hours to do.

 “People eat with their eyes first to start with, so it’s got to look good, it's got to have a golden colour, the pastry has got to be nice and even."

The other eleven judged categories include Steak and Cheese, Mince and Gravy, Mince and Cheese,  Steak and Gravy,  Bacon and Egg,  Chicken and Vegetable,  Gourmet Meat,  Vegetarian,  Café Boutique,  Gourmet Fruit,  Commercial Wholesale and Potato Top.

“The stand-out pie that I’ve seen today is a slow-cooked pork belly pie which was cooked in cider, apple cider and pear cider,” says Kersel.

Celebrity chef judge Gareth Stewart shares that view.

“The stand-out for me today is the pork belly pie that I had, which just had a cheeky bit of crackling coming out the top.  You can’t beat anything with crackling," says Stewart.

“Pastry is a real stand-out for me.  It’s got to be cooked perfectly and a bit of innovation as well, using really good ingredients.”

Photo source: Bakels New Zealand Supreme Pie Awards.

Stewart is originally from the UK and is the owner of 15 New Zealand restaurants including Euro, Culpeper and Jervois Steak House in Auckland and Queenstown in addition to The Crab Shack in Auckland and Wellington and Soul.

“Growing up in the UK was different.  We’ve got so many different pies.  People eat pies differently here.  They kind of pick it up from a bag and eat it as a snack but back home it’s all about eating and sitting down with a pie and mash.”

Other interesting ingredients used during the competition included kumara, paua, pineapple and mussels.

“The top ten basically go through.  The gold winners will be invited to the dinner and presented with their certificate and prize.”

Almost $20,000 in prizes will be up for grabs at the awards tonight at Sky City.