Baking up a winner

PERFECT PIES: Top Nelson pie makers Mey Khong, left, and Mann Ng of The Lunch Stop with their steak and cheese pies.
PERFECT PIES: Top Nelson pie makers Mey Khong, left, and Mann Ng of The Lunch Stop with their steak and cheese pies.

Early this morning, while you were sleeping, Nelson's favourite pie makers were already at work.

Husband and wife team, May Khong and Mann Ng, were at their Nelson store by 3am today, putting the finishing touches on the 100-odd pies they sell each day.

It's a daily ritual, but the hard work appears to be paying off for the pair and their popular pies.

Their Lunch Stop, on Pascoe St, in Tahunanui was voted by Nelson Mail readers online as having the best pies in the region this month.

Voting was spread among dozens of stores, perhaps a reflection of the Kiwi pie obsession, but the Lunch Stop received the most votes, with eight out of 52 nominations at and our Facebook page.

Chief pie maker is Mr Ng, who learnt much of his skill working in an Auckland bakery for nine years.

He won't finish work until midnight tonight after he starts making more pies this afternoon, ready for tomorrow.

Mrs Khong will be by his side until the afternoon when she heads home to look after their four children, aged 17 to four.

The husband and wife team, originally from Cambodia, also made sandwiches and wraps this morning to sell alongside nine different flavours of pies.

"All of them are popular, but it depends on the weather. If it's raining the mince goes really quick, but if the sun comes out then it's mince and cheese or bacon and egg,'' Mrs Khong said.

Large queues have been seen out the door, mirroring the equally large pies found inside. This morning the Nelson Mail sampled a pie, known for its unusually rich gravy and crisp pastry.

The secret to the Lunch Stop's recipe comes down to preparation and ingredients, Mrs Khong said.

Without giving too much away, she said they bought their own meat and cut it themselves.

"We cut our own steak we don't buy it from a butcher. We get a whole topside and cut it ourselves."
Many butchers added fat to the meat they sold, she said.

"We just want meat for our pies."

The other top two nominations for Nelson's pie crown were Washington Valley Store, with its chilli con carne pies specifically mentioned, and Wakefield Bakery.

Other good pies that also received several nominations were found at the Wakefield Bakery, Stoke Bakery, Motueka Baker, Toad Hall and Ka Pai.