Bakers all over the country will be biting their nails this week as judges tuck into what they hope will be pastry perfection.
The 2013 Bakels New Zealand Supreme Pie Awards have enticed more than 500 bakers to send a whopping 4500 pies to Auckland for judging - the highest number since the awards began 17 years ago.
And chief judge Tim Aspinall said the standard was impressive.
"The bar's always being raised," he said.
"The good ones have listened to feedback and taken it on board for this year."
Aspinall and his 18 judges mowed their way through the plethora of pies yesterday, judging a winner in each of the 12 categories before locking the doors and entering heated deliberations over the prestigious supreme award winner.
However, most of the entries went uneaten.
Initially, adjudicators focus on the aesthetics of the inside and outside of the pie before discarding the majority that do not make the grade.
The remaining few are heated up, tasted and scored based on several scientific criteria.
Aspinall said the most common mistakes were having too much or too little filling, or getting the meat to gravy ration wrong.
"It needs to look delicious, but that's not all that matters. The pie needs to taste delicious at first bite, then the flavour should linger. It's a bit of a fine art."
With fruity dessert pies controversially taking out the top title for the last two years, the heat has been on meat lovers to up their game.
Aspinall said that had been evident in some of the more creative entries.
Exotic combinations such as Asian beef with shitake and star anise, teriyaki chicken sushi, and curried goat with feta were on the menu this year. A chicken drumstick poked the top of one pie.
Forty-nine awards are up for grabs, with top prize scoring the baker $7500 and the coveted Supreme Piemaker Trophy, while category winners receive $1000 cash.
The winners will be announced at a gala dinner at The Langham hotel in Auckland on Tuesday.