Friday 11 March 2016

Potential boycotts planned after pasty wins British Pie Awards 2016

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

Warning: This post contains controversial and potentially upsetting news regarding the winner of the British Pie Awards 2016. If you are of a sensitive nature regarding the true definition of a pie, you will almost certainly find the content of this post upsetting.

For several years now the British Pie Awards have been firmly etched into 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. And this year was supposed to be extra special, as the top awards in pie have been held in none other than British Pie Week itself, with the judging having taken place on Wednesday 9th March and the Award's Lunch on Friday 11th March.

But our decision to attend the 2017 British Pie Awards has been put in doubt after over 100 judges (including two of our very own Pierateers) rated 786 pies and 30 pasties from across Britain and beyond, and awarded the Supreme Champion Award to a pasty at the British Pie Awards 2016. And no, I'm not even joking. Having been a judge at the British Pie Awards last year and in 2014, plus volunteer helpers at the awards in 2013 and rated well over 500 pies on our pie blog we know pies - and a pasty most certainly is NOT a pie!

As stated in our pie dictionary, we define a true pie as "filling fully encased in pastry with clearly defined base, sides and lid." Even putting the fully encased in pastry v top crust issue to one side for a moment, a pasty quite simply does not conform to this or any correct definition of a pie, as it is just one piece of pastry folded over the filling.

Having rated over 500 pies on Pierate, there are very few pie experts they could call on with more ex-pie-rience than us when it comes to the pie-fect pie judge! This makes it all the more difficult to accept why there was a pasty category there at all, let alone having a pasty win the whole thing. What next? Sausage Rolls? Slices? Beef Wellingtons?

What frustrates me most is that the British Pie Awards are supposed to be a celebration of Britain's best pies, but now all everyone will talk about is how a pasty won in 2016! It's therefore all the genuine pie winners I feel most sorry for.

While the final decision will need to be made in the cold light of day, we Pierateers are certainly up in arms about it and are seriously considering a boycott of the Pie/Pasty/Pastry Awards next year. With all due respect to the pasty company that won the award, which I am sure was a very well made and enjoyable pasty, they should have been entering the pasty world championships instead. It would be a real shame if this pasty win was just a publicity stunt and severely puts into question whether the organisers are really trying to promote the classic British PIE. Perhaps it should be renamed the British Pastry Awards if this is their passion? Certainly some pie makers have suggested boycotting the awards next year over this decision.

I'm afraid we would have to completely disagree with Matthew O’Callaghan, chairman of the British Pie Awards and Melton Mowbray Pork Pie Association, who has gone on record as saying "the definition of a pie is a filling totally encased in pastry" as we believe this is not an accurate enough definition and query why - if this was the British Pie Awards' unusual view - there was not a slice category or beef wellington category available. Pies do come in all shapes and sizes, but still maintain a clearly defined base, sides and lid. Once again, a pasty is NOT a pie.

Many thanks to the Metro and Telegraph for including some of our quotes in their articles on this controversial British Pie Awards decision. Interestingly it was a debate between fully encased and top crust pies that started off this British Pie Week, but it is the pasty v pie debate that has concluded it.

Out of respect to all the genuine pies that were entered into the competition we will be providing a fuller analysis of the British Pie Awards 2016 at a later date, but for now you can re-live the winning pies from previous years in our articles below and our live blogging at the British Pie Awards 2016.

This isn't the first time we've attended the British Pie Awards! Find out more in our other articles here:
Judges in 2015  |  Judges in 2014  |  Helpers in 2013

British Pie Awards 2015 Judges
Judges at the British Pie Awards 2015, including Pierateer Sam

It is also worthy of note that while we were previously very excited to hear that the British Pie Awards had teamed up with Roast Restaurant in London, who were on board as sponsors of the Supreme Champion Award and had agreed to have one of the winning pies listed on their menu. However we will now have to see what pastry product is chosen before determining whether we can visit and sample it in London when the winner is on their menu.

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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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