Dream of win may be pie in the sky

Pie maker Duncan Nelson devours a bacon and egg pie
Pie maker Duncan Nelson devours a bacon and egg pie

Ten of Taranaki's favourite bakeries will have their pies put to the test in a nationwide competition tomorrow.

Thousands of flaky favourites from around the country will be submitted to the refined palates of a panel of expert judges, including Maketu Pies owner Grant Wilson and TV chef Allyson Gofton.

A record-breaking 4400 pies in 11 categories from 380 bakeries across the country have been entered in the Bakels Supreme Pie Awards this year.

Among the entries will be several from Inglewood's Nelson's Bakery, which is entering the competition for the first time.

"I don't like being judged," Nelson's owner and pie-maker Duncan Nelson said, unsure if his locally popular pies would meet the national standard.

"I have no idea whether we'll win anything, I don't expect to. I'd probably be quite surprised, not shocked, but definitely surprised, if we did."

Mr Nelson, previously an electrician in Stratford, hasn't spent much time at all making pies - he started baking only two years ago - but it's in his blood.

His grandfather was the original owner of Nelson's Bakery, which opened in 1945 and provided pies and other pastry products for decades before the business was sold outside the family in 1988.

In 2000, Mr Nelson bought the bakery back and has since been attempting to improve its fare.

"We've been trying to improve the quality and consistency of the pies, especially over the last 18 months or so.

"We've changed the meat supplier and the flour and the pastry thickness," he said.

Those changes could make all the difference to the judging panel as they look closely at the steak and cheese; steak, cheese and bacon; bacon and egg; and mince and cheese pies Nelsons is entering.

The pies will be judged on the pastry, presentation, filling, flavour and weight.

With 45 awards to be won and more than $18,000 prize money, not to mention the prestige attached to a title like Supreme Pie, it's well worth the shot for other Taranaki bakeries too.

New Plymouth's Andre's Pies, Bateman's, Blagdon Hot Bread Bakery, Dans Bakery, Piccolo Morso and the Bell Block Bakery as well as Tuns Bakery in Hawera, Forty Five Degrees Cafe in Opunake and Stratford's Broadway Bakery, are also entering.

Kirsty McMurray is a Fairfax intern