L-R NZ Bakels managing director Brent Kersel, Peter Gordon and NZ Bakels national sales manager Tony Marshell.

Peter Gordon, this year’s celebrity chef judge in the Bakels NZ Supreme Pie Awards wants as many bakers to enter as possible but they need to be quick, entries close on June 24 at 5pm.

Whanganui is his hometown so he’s especially putting out a challenge to get bakers in that region to enter saying how proud it would make him feel if a baker from Whanganui won the Supreme Award.

Now in its 24th year, entry is free in Bakels NZ Supreme Pie Awards, New Zealand’s largest food competition. Just head to www.nzbakels.co.nz and click on ‘discover’ in the Pie Awards screenshot.

Bakers, once you’ve entered you have until the second week of July to develop your entries in any of the 11 categories that fits your business best from Café Boutique for food outlets that don’t make their own pastry, Commercial/Wholesale – producing 60,000+ pies a week; or retail bakery – you can choose any or all of the following categories:  Mince and Gravy, Mince and Cheese, Steak and Gravy, Steak and Cheese, Chicken and Vegetable, Bacon and Egg, Gourmet Meat, Vegetarian, Potato Top. Your pie entries must be on sale in your business at the time of judging day.

After 31 years of living in London where pies are very different from New Zealand, Peter is hopeful of discovering some stunningly good pies during judging.

“Pies are very New Zealand and I love a pie.  In the UK their pies were either the lovely Melton Mowbray pork pies with jelly in them which I love – they call them dashboard pies there – or just not great pies.

“A great pie is a very good thing and we do many really great pies in New Zealand,” says Peter.

But what will Peter be looking for in a ‘great pie’?

He admits he loves a good bacon and egg pie. “My stepmum Rose, who’s Cockney, makes what I think is one of the best bacon and egg pies. I prefer bacon and egg pies with tomatoes and peas and I like them without a lid.” (A top is required in the Pie Awards competition unless it is in the Café Boutique category.)

 Then again, at Homeland restaurant and cooking school, Peter and his partner Alastair Carruthers have set themselves the ultimate goal that within two years of opening (November 2022) they won’t have any ingredients on the menu that are not from New Zealand or the Pacific. That’s everything from salt and pepper and olive oil through to spices. Their wine list is solely New Zealand and their spirits list more and more so.

“We wanted to do something for the betterment of the country, rather than just ourselves. We both had really good careers and we thought let’s do something that’s going to help New Zealand as a whole. And we thought what would be really good would be to focus on producers from New Zealand and the Pacific. We thought let’s help our community. What is our community? That summed it up really.

“Initially it was not to do another restaurant. We thought if we could teach people to cook using local and Pacific produce that would benefit all sorts of people; the fishers, the farmers, the producers and the growers and that would cause employment. It would just be a good thing to do. This was all under level 4 so the world’s changed quite a bit since then.

“One of our mantras is ‘manaakitanga’ – for everybody from everywhere – and that’s all about powerful, tradeable, sustainable kai. So what we hope to do is help emerging producers get their stuff to market and in this place we can do it because we can use it in the cooking school, sell it on the shelf and we can have it on the menu.

That philosophy will also influence Peter’s decisions’ during pie judging but he’s keeping an open mind.

“The creativity that is encouraged in some of the competition categories excited me very much.  Good Kiwi flavours, indigenous ingredients but also maybe looking offshore for inspiration because I’m the guy who’s done fusion forever. At Homeland we focus on ingredients from New Zealand and the Pacific but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to see other ingredients in these pies. It will be good see in these Covid times, when we’ve all been locked inside, what our NZ bakers are going to produce. I know it’s going to be interesting,” says Peter.

The Bakels NZ Supreme Pie Awards will be judged on July 22 with the winners being announced at the Awards night on July 27.

www.nzbakels.co.nz

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