Sunday 28 April 2013

British Pie Awards 2013

The British Pie Awards 2013 title of Supreme Champion was won by The Pie Kitchen with their Chicken, Chantenay Carrot and Bacon Pie. For a full list of winners click here. For our review of the day read on!

This isn't the only time we've attended the British Pie Awards! Oh no! Find out more in our other articles here:
Judges in 2015  |  Judges in 2014  |  Helpers in 2013

The Pierateers @ The British Pie Awards 2013

It might seem hard to believe but The Pierateers have never actually been to the British Pie Awards before. It is such a busy schedule trying to manage eating and reviewing pies with the day job that it just has never quite been possible before. That changed this year as Pierateers SJL and RAS offered their services to help out with the 2013 event. It was fascinating to see behind the scenes at what must be one of the biggest events of its kind in the world. Certainly there will be nothing like this elsewhere in the world as there is nothing like a British pie.

The venue is St. Mary’s Church in Melton Mowbray which sounds strange to hold such an event in a Church but as it is spacious this worked quite well. Melton Mowbray is an ideal location, it seems like the passion of the locals really does make it the heart of rural food production in England. They certainly put a lot of effort into hosting the British Pie Awards which is run by the Melton Mowbray Pork Pie society. There were 20 categories with judges assigned in pairs with two to eight judges per category depending on the number of pies in that category.  This gave a record breaking total of 983 pies!
One of the most bizarre moments was the part where the Vicar of the Church announced that we were going to sing a hymn…. about pies. This was to the tune of all things bright and beautiful. It was one of those ‘is this really happening’ moments. The head judge Alan Stuart from the Scotch Pie Club gave the opening guidance to the judges on how to score the pies. This was professionally done with test pies for the judges to gauge their scoring against.
Once scoring proper began the judges would sample a small amount of the pie in their pairs. Rather than assigning a score points would then be deducted for things that were wrong with the pie. The pies were given to the judges without any identification as to what the pie was so as to ensure there was no bias. The operation to keep the judges constantly supplied with pies was no mean feat! There were a range of ovens with cold pies constantly going in as hot pies came out. The pierateers were involved in the team of volunteers taking hot pies to the judges. It was important to get each pie to the judges when it was hot and fresh which was generally achieved.
Pierateer SJL was assisting with Class 5 – Beef and Ale while Pierateer RAS was on the table with the Class 10 pies – Other Meat. There were some controversial incidents. A couple of rogue chicken pies were found in the beef and ale pies in addition to an ale free variety. Someone had also sent along a selection of 6 mini pies although it is clear that only one pie is judged in Class 5. This meant a tiny sample for the judges! In addition there were some pies with sizeable holes in them. Considering a pie should be ‘completely enclosed in pastry’ by British Pie Award rules this is a fine line to tread. However they were generally considered to not break the rules.
The event was generally organised well. It must be a bit of a logistical nightmare to sort all the pies and have enough people on hand to help. The judges generally seemed professional about scoring their pies although there were some pies the pierateers noticed were scored fairly low when we have assigned the same pie a high score ourselves. Some of the judges did have a lot of pies to score and some commented on being sick of pies by the end. I think naturally those at the end had a disadvantage but this is always difficult to avoid. The judges seemed to try to mitigate this in their scoring. It must also be noted that the Pierateers take cost into account where as the British Pie Awards don’t do this.
The judging started about 12:30 and went on for at least two hours and much longer in some categories. The fish pie category in particular seemed to have many more entries this year and only two judges so took a long time. The pierateers heard comment that there still weren’t any fish pies which stood out especially.
There were some spectacular pies, including a wedding pie in the speciality section! Take note anyone with a wedding soon!  One sad thing to note was the amount of waste pie. Normally only a small amount of pie could be eaten by the judges so the rest of the pie was thrown away. There could perhaps be some way of recycling this waste pie, perhaps sending it to a local dog sanctuary. It was sad to see the creations people put so much time into going into the bin!

Once all the pies were judged the scores where collected up and the winners were announced the next day at the awards lunch.  Congratulations to all the winners, especially the Supreme Champion, The Pie Kitchen with their Chicken, Chantenay Carrot and Bacon Pie (click here to see our review). At the time of the awards there were no winners which had been reviewed by The Pierateers (although we have since put that right!). This goes to show just how many pies there are out there!


Pierate is a pie review website on a search for the ultimate pie. For all the pies we have reviewed have a look at our Pie Rankings or find pies of a particular flavour under Pies: Categorised.

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