He’s a household name thanks to the enormous success of top Auckland restaurants where he was Executive Chef until recently, as well as his role on My Kitchen Rules NZ on TV. Now Ben Bayly is preparing for another challenge as Celebrity Chef Judge at the 22nd NZ Bakels Supreme Pie Awards.
It’s an honour he’s thrilled to accept. In his informative years abroad as a chef, Bayly never quite found anything to compare with a Kiwi pie. So, on the trips back home he would fantasise about the taste of that first pie after leaving the airport… a quick stop to grab a steak & cheese pie from the pie warmer at the nearest shop, one bite, and Bayly felt like he was home.
Like his career as one of NZ’s most successful chefs and restaurateurs, he’s taking the chance to judge New Zealand pies seriously, and he certainly knows what he’s talking about when he mentions tastes, textures, and keeping pie recipes honest. He describes the pie as ‘every person’s food’ saying “they deserve to have their pie made properly”. He’s also looking for a return to vegetables in pies.
“Remember back in the day when they had peas and carrots in pies? What happened to that? They were just frozen peas and carrots but beautiful! That was another nostalgic moment for me; back at school my pies had peas and carrots in them. They’re a natural sweetness. Use vegetables to bulk out the meat, they’re cheaper than ready-made gravies and even frozen is fine.”
He adds: “Think about the contrasting texture in a pie. You bite through the pastry which is textural and then you want to feel the difference of the filling in your mouth. Show economy using interesting cuts of meat that don’t cost much. Think about supporting organics too; there’s no reason why you couldn’t make an organic pie. The way we eat food is changing and people who make pies will be thinking about changing too,” says Bayly.
Entries open – May 1
Judging Day – July 26
NZ Bakels Supreme Pie Awards – July 31