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Bob the Baker (can he mix it?)

MATT RILKOFF
Last updated 05:00 19/07/2014
Bob Bateman
ROBERT CHARLES/Fairfax NZ

BAKER'S DOZEN: Bob Bateman.

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Two months ago Bob Bateman began making pies again, and next week he will pit them against the country's best.

The New Plymouth baker is entering seven pie categories in next week's much anticipated Bakels New Zealand Supreme Pie Awards.

A win at the competition is the pie world's gold medal and ensures pie connoisseurs will be beating down his door to sample the winning pastry.

"About 90 per cent of the pies are eliminated before they even get tasted. It's got to look good and if it doesn't, they are out.

"Even if I get to the tasting stage I will consider it a success," Bateman said.

His bakery boasts inventive and sophisticated pie flavours but a small flurry of staff resignations last year had left him with no time to make his own. To fix this he hired baker Jaime Boyce two months ago to concentrate on getting Bateman's own pies back in the warmer. They now offer 13 pie types, including curried goat, beef and Guinness, wild pork, and steak and cheese.

The pie competition is not without controversy. In 2012, a ginger, peach, pear and cointreau pie from Kihikihi's Viands Bakery took out the top prize against expectations.

"I'm hoping this year there will be a backlash. It was seen as a tart by some and not a pie at all. So I'm hoping there is a backlash and a real pie will be chosen this year," Bateman said.

As well as Bateman's, 531 bakeries with 4770 pies are in the mix, including New Plymouth's Andre Pies, Blagdon Bakery, Dan's Bakery, and Opunake's Sugar Juice. Pies will be judged on Thursday.

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