Tuesday 6 May 2014

British Pie Awards 2014

British Pie Awards 2014 - Church
The home of the British Pie Awards

With over 800 pies from across Britain being judged by over 100 judges, it’s no wonder the British Pie Awards are firmly etched in our pie calendar. Held in St Mary’s Church in the heart of Melton Mowbray, it is a spectacular setting in the home of the pork pie. It may therefore surprise you that this was our debut judging at the British Pie Awards, having been volunteer helpers at the awards in 2013.

Overall there were 19 classes of pies – ranging from small pie producers to the country’s largest pie-makers. But only one of the 825 entries could be named Supreme Champion 2014 and that accolade went to Graham Aimson, Jackie Simpson and the Morecambe Football Club Kitchen. Their Bramley Apple pie won the title and we were not at all surprised, as we had thoroughly enjoyed this pie in January. In fact, it received “Pierate Highly Recommended” status with 6.11/7! To top it all off, Graham also won top football pie for his Chicken, Ham and Leek pie which – you guessed it! – we had also rated highly during our visit with a 6.16/7!

British Pie Awards 2014
Supreme Pie Champion at the British Pie Awards 2014
Morecambe Football Club Kitchen

This isn't the first 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

Nice Pie Review
Nice Pie entry into the "Pie Fit for a Hero" Class
As mentioned in our preview article, this year's speciality class, A Pie Fit For A Hero, recognised those providing food for Britain's Armed Services in the centenary year of the start of the First World War. There were some specially decorated entries for this class, including a fabulously decorated pie from Nice Pie (see photo) and the winning entry went to Boghall Butchers, who had a cracking day winning in a number of categories. In our interview with Andy Bates before the pie judging began, he said the key to a good pie was “love and attention” – something which was clearly put into the top pies he judged in the “Pie Fit For a Hero” class.

Other big winners come the pie awards lunch included Nice Pie, who won the Special Award for small pie producers. They may have only been producing pies for about a year but you won’t have failed to notice the impact of Nice Pie on our pie rankings, having not only some of the top rated pies but also some of the most unusual flavours! In fact they make up quite a large proportion of our “Most unusual Pies” article!

Several other producers got top three entries in several categories, including Walker and Sons (who pretty much swept up in the Pork Pie categories and are highly rated by us too), The Outdoor Pig Company and the Great North Pie Company. The Pie Kitchen – who were Supreme Champions in 2013 and were rated highly by us last year – also won in the Beef and any flavour combination category. You can see a list of all the top 3 winners in each category in the British Pie Awards here. It’s certainly left us with plenty of pies to keep our eyes on this coming year!

Pierateer Tim took upon himself the important task of rating the nation’s pies according to the specific British Pie Awards grading criteria, which mark pies out of 100 and award gold, silver and bronze awards to the top pies. While the grading criteria does have some significant differences to the Seven Cs upon which we pie rate ourselves, Tim (who can be seen in the grey top on the Independent’s British Pie Awards article) quickly set to work on the cold pork pies class (class 2) after a judges briefing from head judge Ian Nelson and then a class briefing from Cliff Congrave.

Each pie is judged by two judges, to enable discussion between the pair over the merits of each pie and give a more rounded analysis. Working alongside Sue Woodall, Pierateer Tim judged 16 pork pies before the top pies from the class were reconsidered in a head to head to award a top 3. The winner of class 2 was only then revealed on Thursday at the awards lunch as The Outdoor Pig Company, so many congratulations to them!

British Pie Awards 2014
Pie Judges at the British Pie Awards 2014
There was a vast array of top judges at the awards itself and some classic quotes from the day. They included “There’s few things as bad as undercooked pastry” – something we as Pierateers wholeheartedly agree with when on the Seven Cs of pie rating – and one pie was described as “like roast dinner in a pie!” Pies in the "Other meats" class included squirrel, duck, venison and rabbit, while there were also pies containing beetroot and other interesting ingredients!

In our interview with Head Judge Ian Nelson, from Hovis Ltd, he was “looking to see the consistency and quality of the products across a wide range of the 19 categories”. He was “looking forward to finding the British Pie Champion” and had previously judged at the Scotch Pie Championships (which Pierateer SJL has previously judged at).

Before the pie judging began, the pies were blessed by Reverend Kevin Ashby. Speaking to the Reverend, whose church the awards are held in, he remarked that it was great to see the church used for different events. The church was part of the community in Melton Mowbray and it was great a national event was taking place there. In his fourth year of judging, Reverend Ashby was a particular fan of steak and kidney pies.

British Pie Awards 2014 George Eustice MP
Food Minister George Eustice MP does a bit of pie rating
Throughout the day many people, young and old, visited the church to see pie rating in action, including a special visit from Food Minister George Eustice MP. Speaking to us George commented that while it was the first time he had visited the British Pie Awards, it was a fantastic event in the home of the pork pie. He referred to pies as “the most British of foods” and later had a go at pie rating himself with a selection of pork pies.

In summing up the event, MMPPA chairman Matthew O'Callaghan said: "The competition was tougher than ever this year which makes Morecambe FC’s achievement all the more impressive. It was fantastic to bring together so many people and producers with a passion for pies, quality ingredients and great British food. Praise must go to our judges, who rose to the challenge of tasting and scoring every pie fairly and were extremely impressed by the quality of entries.”

So with the reign of The Pie Kitchen coming to an end, rest assured that pie making is in very good hands in 2014. Having already won in 2011, the Morecambe FC Kitchen have done a fantastic job in winning back their Supreme Champion title and we very much look forward to sampling more of the British Pie Awards 2014 winners in the coming months ahead.

Just remember: pie rating is for life, not just the BPAs! ;-)


Two fellow judges at the British Pie Awards and friends of Pierate are Nik Speller and Matthew Rippon. You can read their views on the British Pie Awards 2014 on their blogs, with Nik (@NikSpeller) writing on Conrad's Beer and Matthew (@FoodGeography) writing on Food and Geography.

The Pierateers are on a mission to find the best pie they can and you can see a list of their pies rated so far in the Pierate Pie Rankings or find pies of a similar flavour on the Pies: Categorised page.

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and let us know your thoughts!


  1. Great story, Rob. I recall from the day that you were taking a lot of notes and photographs. It's interesting to note the pie ratings from the British Pie Awards then compare them to your previous reviews for Pierate.

    1. Yes, I did take some other photos and video - hope to add a little video in due course! Just wanted to be as concise as possible with this post. Thanks for the idea - I may do a BPA v Pierate comparison at some point!


Thanks for getting in touch with the Pierateers!