Controversy as a pasty triumphs at the British Pie Awards


It is a controversial decision, likely to cause consternation among pie and pasty connoisseurs the length and breadth of the country, even prompting talk of a boycott.

But a pasty has won the coveted top prize at this year’s British Pie Awards for the first time, beating 815 other entries to take home the title of Supreme Champion.

The Beef Skirt & Vegetable Pasty, lovingly created by the family-run A.F Huddleston Butchers in the Lake District, was said to have had the judges mouths watering with its even bake, glaze and flavours.

Final preparations are made ahead of the judging

Matthew O’Callaghan, chairman of the British Pie Awards and Melton Mowbray Pork Pie Association, acknowledged that the decision to award the prestigious trophy to a pasty would fuel debate about the difference between a pasty and a pie.

“I know many will be surprised to see a pasty winning the British Pie Awards, but the definition of a pie is a filling totally encased in pastry,” he said.

“Pies come in all shapes including round pies, square pies and pasties. A pasty is simply a subsection of a pie."

The entries for this year's speciality class

The difference between the two is all in the structure, he said.

Pasties tend to be defined as a singular, folded pastry case with a crimped lid and a savoury filling, typically of seasoned meat and vegetables.

Pies, on the other hand, traditionally have a base and sides and a separate lid. A pie is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as “a baked dish of fruit, or meat or vegetables, typically with a top and base of pastry”.

Judges contemplate an entry

This definition is taken extremely seriously at the annual British Pie Awards. Anyone attempting to sneak in an entry with a potato or a meringue lid, or even a lattice top, would have found themselves out in the cold.

But the decision to award the top prize to a pasty immediately generated outrage on social media, where it was variously described as “scandalous” and “an outrage”. It was even claimed that some pie makers would boycott next year's event.

Breaking news: We're hearing of PIE makers planning to boycott @BritishPies Awards next year over their pasty decision #BritishPieAwards

— Pierate (@pierateers)
11 March 2016

Forget Rafa Benitez going from Real Madrid to Newcastle – the shock news today is a pasty winning the @BritishPies #BritishPieAwards #NoJoke

— Pierate (@pierateers)
11 March 2016

Pierate, a pie reviewer and former judge at the awards, described it as “a sad day for pie fans” and said that for the first time, it would not be rating the winner.

As a judge at the awards the last 3 yrs, we are seriously considering a boycott over this. What next? Sausage Rolls?”

“And slices, and beef wellingtons… this is Political Correctness gone mad!”

Oh dear …. A pasty has won the 2016 British Pie Awards via MetroUK

— The Red Lion, Barnes (@RedLionBarnes)
11 March 2016

British Pie Awards SHAMBLES as a PASTY is announced as winner

— Anthony Grant (@Enhanceddating)
11 March 2016

Hot or cold and sweet or savoury pies can be entered in the renowned competition. However, all pies must be totally encased in pastry with a closed top and fit into one of the pre-assigned categories.

All pies, except the specialist class, must be commercially available in the UK.

Mr O’Callaghan said the winning entry was particularly impressive as only 30 of the 816 entries, assessed by 120 judges, were pasties.

The small, family run business also triumphed against some of the biggest names in the industry, including Pieminister and other manufacturers who supply all of the major supermarkets.

“The winning pasty was outstanding,” he added.

“It looked so appealing; an even bake with a beautiful glaze and a perfect crimp. Eating it was a delight, well balanced flavours, tender meat, small chunks of vegetable and a delicious gravy with just the right amount of seasoning. One of the best examples of a perfectly produced pasty.”

He said the award could be life changing for the Cumbrian butcher and said that people would be “beating a path to their door”.

“Pasties have been a feature of British cuisine for centuries ranging from the Forfar Bridie in Scotland through to the Midland’s Bedfordshire Clanger and down to the iconic Cornish Pasty. I’m pleased that we now have an award-winning pasty to shout about from Cumbria.”

As well as the Supreme Champion, an honourable mention went to Turner’s Pies Ltd in Bognor Regis, West Sussex, which achieved four first places within their individual classes.

A speciality class, designed to encourage pie makers to get creative with their baking, this year required a pie fit for The Queen’s 90th birthday celebrations and was won by a Victorian Corset Pork & Chicken Pie produced by Walker & Son.

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