Two Coromandel Peninsula bakers claim national awards in the Bakels NZ Supreme Pie Awards, Café Boutique section.
By Pauline Stewart.
A Chicken Cranberry and Camembert Pie baked by Michelle Liddell, owner of Chill Café, Whangamata won the Gold Award.
A Steak and Olive Pie, baked by Augustin and Tania who bake from the ovens of Slice Slice Baby Pizza Parlour in Whitianga, that won the bronze award.
5,000 pies were in New Zealand’s largest baking competition with 500 bakers having entered.
Michelle Liddell’s gold award is both joyful and poignant. “I love baking. I moved here seven years ago but it is the first time I have entered the pie competition. Michelle talked emotionally about her partner, Ata, who loved her pies. “He died last October waiting for a heart transplant. He could never say the word, ‘pie’. The pronouncement of ‘p’ was difficult. He would say, ‘Let’s try one of those ‘byes’. I entered the competition for him really. My staff encouraged me and helped me all the way. It’s a way of coping with missing him so much – he cheers me on.”
Michelle Liddell’s Chill Café is also famous for its Mince and Cheese Pie and their Pork, Potato and Apple Pie.
Agustin Medina and Tania Bachetta came from Uruguay and set up their business (TatiFrutti) on the Coromandel, specializing in natural and freshly squeezed juices as well as home cooked pastries using recipes from their home country.
Recently, Mike and Nadine the owners of Slice Slice Baby organized to share their premises with this energetic and imaginative couple. The arrangement means Agustin and Tania use the pizza parlour premises in the mornings for their baking and serving the public their fresh juice, pies and pastries from 8.30am – 1.00pm, while Slice Slice Baby Pizzas are baked in the afternoon ready for their very large customer base from early evening 5.00pm - 8.30pm.
“We are very excited to win a bronze medal in a national competition. We also bake a steak and cheese pie and a vegetarian one – spinach, cream cheese and egg pie, of which we are proud. We are just very thankful for this award and to Slice Slice Baby for the sharing of their premises. We will keep on offering our best.”
NZ Bakels Managing Director Brent Kersel says:
“This year I’d have to say was one of the toughest years’ we’ve seen in the judging because there were so many superb pies to the point that it was too close to call a category winner in several of the categories and they were re-judged. It was that close!”
“So, I’d like to say, well done to all the bakers that entered. The standard of your pie-making is the highest we have ever seen, and you should be proud to put those pies in your shop to sell."
The whole Coromandel Peninsula congratulates Michelle Liddell and her staff. It’s well worth a trip to Chill Café, 427 Port Road, Whangamata to try Michelle’s pies. Agustin and Tania are also to be congratulated for their national bronze achievement after such a short time in New Zealand. It is certainly worth the journey to Slice Slice Baby, 123 c Albert Street, Whitianga, to buy their pies, drink glorious fresh juice and stay and order a pizza.
Conquering King reigns supreme with a Roast Duck Pie.
New Zealand’s baking dynasty now has its King back on the throne with Patrick Lam of Patrick’s Pies Gold Star Bakery in Tauranga winning his eighth Bakels NZ Supreme Pie Award. In this 25th year of the Pie Awards, Patrick surprised the judges with a perfect Roast Duck, Onion and Mushroom entry in the Gourmet Meat category. Patrick Lam is New Zealand’s most awarded pie maker. Each time Patrick has won there have been a different set of judges judging the category and it just goes to show that if you present a stunning pie that ticks all the boxes and outshines every other pie, the judges are going to choose it.
Facts sheet – Bakels NZ Supreme Pie Awards
1. 25th year of the competition – NZ Bakels Supreme Pie Awards.
2. You can see past Pie Awards coverage at: http://pieawards.nz.
3. There is no charge to enter the Awards.
4. Thousands of dollars of prizes are up for grabs.
5. Bakels NZ Supreme Pie Awards is largest annual food competition in New Zealand.
6. In 2023 just under 5000 pies are in the competition entered by 500 bakers.
7. 11 categories – Steak & Cheese; Steak & Gravy; Mince & Gravy; Mince & Cheese; Potato Top; Bacon & Egg; Chicken & Vegetable; Gourmet Meat; Vegetarian; Café Boutique; Commercial Wholesale, and Supreme – judged from gold winning pies.
8. Commercial Wholesale can only enter a mince & cheese for this category. The bakery must produce a minimum of 60,000 single serve pies in a six-day week.
9. On average 20 judges from the baking industry fraternity choose the finalists before the gold award-winners are re-judged for the Supreme award.
10. Each year a celebrity chef helps with the judging. This year’s celebrity chef judge is Al Brown of Federal St Deli, Depot and a number of other ventures including Tipping Point Wines.
11. All judging is by blind judging – the pie boxes carry no identifying information other than the box number.
12. 10-hour day of judging to find the winner.
13. Chief judge is Tim Aspinall, former head of hospitality training at NSIA. Tim also carves the margarine show pieces for Awards night and this year he’s created a huge pie held in hands.
14. NZ Bakels managing director is Brent Kersel.
Caption: The judge holds the Bronze Award-winning pies.