Looking for the pie 'wow factor'

Judges chow down on New Zealand's best

KELSEY FLETCHER
Last updated 12:21 19/07/2012
LYLE MCMAHON

A team of judges are working their way through 4500 entries in the annual Bakels New Zealand Supreme Pie Awards.

Pie awards 2012
JOHN SELKIRK/Fairfax NZ Zoom
Duncan Loney, judge and Executive Chairman of Bakels, doing a taste test of a steak and cheese pie for the Bakels Supreme Pie Awards.

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Beauty might be in the eye of the beholder, but in a pie contest you'd think the judging would be better determined by the belly.

Not so, says Bakels Supreme Pie Award head judge Dennis Kirkpatrick.

''It's about how the pie is made and how it looks - the wow factor. The biggest thing is the eye appeal," he said.

Kirkpatrick today led a 17-strong judging team in scrutinising 4500 entries, from 444 bakeries and cafes nationwide at Bakels NZ in Auckland.

Over a few hours the  judges will taste more than 100 meat, fruit and vegetable pies to determine who will win the notable Supreme Pie Award.

The judges created a stir in 2011 after giving the top award to a spiced plum, port and apple pie made by Shane and Kathy Kearns of Viands Bakery of Kihikihi, near Te Awamutu.

Kirkpatrick, who has been involved with the awards for 14 of its 16 years, said there was an extremely high standard of pies entered this year.

''It will be tough to judge and the winner will very deserving," he said.

At 11am Kirkpatrick said the tasting had just begun on those deemed good enough to continue to stage two of judging.

''First we open the box and have a look at the top and bottom that it is clean, then we cut in half and look for colour and contents,'' he said.

''Then if it has got enough points it goes through to taste.''

The pies are coded for blind judging in 12 categories - 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 a new category: cafe boutique.

The latter was introduced to cater for the growing number of cafes serving a variety of tasty pies, but the cafe boutique winner is not eligible to win the supreme award.

Kirkpatrick said it would be interesting to see if the supreme award would start to go to the new boutique entrants.

''We thought that with the gourmet meat section but fruit pies and bacon egg have been winning,'' he said.

Results are to be announced at a dinner in Auckland next Tuesday, with judges aware they are being closely watched in what organisers describe as New Zealand's largest food contest.

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