The town of Melton Mowbray is known by many for its pies pork, but at the British Pie Awards this week, the vegan category attracted the most entries.
"It It took a while for people to agree to the vegetarian course, but the vegan course? In the Melton Mowbray pork pie house? It was a bit of a challenge, "said Matthew O 'Callaghan, president of the 'associationn the town's pork pie, although he's a vegetarian himself.
" We wanted the prices of the pie to be inclusive. I know it's a bandwagon, but I think a lot of butchers and others are entering the vegan class to try out new recipes and flavors. But I don't think the classics go anywhere. Steak and beer are always in the top three.
Delayed from March due to the pandemic, a group of 150 judges traveled to the town of Leicestershire on Wednesday to thoroughly sample and score 800 pies in categories ranging from beef and beer to dessert, from fish pies to classic Melton Mowbray pork pie.
This year's vegan category has presented the most innovative starters, with pies including spicy jackfruit, mushrooms ande beer, and bombay potatoes. When a vegan pie won the top prize in the 2019 competition, it ruffled a few feathers, but organizers believe mentalities are changing.
"This year, the vegan is the classiest popular with almost 70 entrees - it's right on trend. I think once upon a time was all about meat and two veggies, but we're more traveled and read better than we've ever been. We're more adventurous with our food, ”said Stephen Hallam, former managing director of Dickinson & Morris, the longest-serving maker of Melton Mowbray pork pies.
After The pi They were blessed by Reverend Kevin Ashby - "we pray that none of the pies here today suffer from a soggy bottom " - the judges split into pairs to mark the 'set depending on factors such as appearance, thickness of the pastrye and the taste of the filling. Each pairing contained an expert judge such as a chef or baker and an enthusiastic hobbyist, who had to keep up with their pace as they embarked on the colossal task of tasting dozens of pies throughout the day.
Each table was stocked with lime juice to help the judges clean their palates between entries. "Everyone thinks it 's the most exciting job in the world, but the baking indigestion for the rest of the day is a delight," joked Malika Andress, a former chef and the one of the vegan class judges.
Awards can have a huge impact in the industry, and previous winners have been greeted by lines of customers meandering down the street after winning a coveted trophy. Amy and Philip Smith, a pastry couple from Twyford near Reading, visited the prizes duringof their honeymoon. After winning seven awards last year, this year they submitted 15 pies - including a vegan and vegetarian pie for the first time - and said they've had sleepless nights in anticipation of the results.
"This year 's build up has been unreal. We competed for the first time last year and didn't even think we would even get noticed, let alone win anything, "Amy Smith said. Their business, Rural Pie Co Ltd, has grown stronger despite the pandemic, and last year it turned its market stall into a store and a coffee.
"It's not necessarily about winning something and it's about appreciating what we do", Smith said. But what's in the humble pie that turns them on so much?
"It sounds a bit cliche, but it is British cuisinee traditional, ”she said. "You can play with it and be creative but it 's just for comfort oper food. I don ' t think I have met anyone who doesn 't like it.
This year's contest winners will be announced on Friday.