Britain's piemen set for battle

The UK's piemen are set for battle to win the annual World Scotch Pie Championship. Both bakers and butchers will be competing for the coveted title.

Keith Sturart has seen his overall sales rise by 10% since his debut win in the World Scotch Pie Championship last November, and the race is now on for the Fife-based businessman to retain the coveted title.

The Buckhaven-based baker looks likely to face a record entry when judging is held at Lauder College, Dunfermline, from noon to 5pm on Wednesday, November 7.

Entry forms have been sent to the 135 members of The Scotch Pie Club all over Britain and competition organiser, Alan Stuart, said: "Interest is as keen as ever."

The ninth world champion will be crowned at a special lunch also in Lauder College (announcement around 2.30pm) on Thursday, November 29.

Keith Stuart, bakery director at Stuart's of Buckhaven who have 19 shops around Fife, said: "We have thought long and hard about this year's entry.

"We were absolutely delighted to win the event for the first time last year and our overall sales have seen an increase of ten per cent in the period since November 2007.

"Part of that rise has been due to our marketing of our unique Iron Brew sausages which took a real trick with our regulars and also with the media from all over Britain.

"Demand for our pies, Scotland's original takeaway food, and sausages has held up well in a highly-competitive market and we'd love to retain the world championship trophy."

Keith added: "The solid wooden pie has toured all our 19 shops and is admired by all. Looking back 11 months, I can remember the shock of being named winner.

"It's something I'll never forget and the feeling of elation I experienced makes me more determined to win the title for a second year."

The award-winning baker is likely to stick to the same recipe which won last time around and he added: "It's been a brilliant year for me and the company, but I know that competition will be fierce.

"Everybody in the trade knows how special this award is and what it can mean in terms of profile and sales for a small or big company.

"That's why companies try so hard to take the title and, having experienced the benefits, we are keen to maintain our grip on the championship."

Previous winners including Lewis Maclean of Macleans Highland Bakery, Forres, Paul Boyle of Boghall Butchers, Bathgate, Thomas Auld and Sons of Greenock, Robert Cowan of the Bon Bon Cake Shop, Airdrie, and Alan Devlin of The Sugar and Spice, Auchterarder are all expected to enter.

Alan Stuart added: "The Scotch Pie is one of Scotland's best-loved food icons. Most regions in the United Kingdom have a unique savoury product such as the Cornish Pastie, the pork pie from the Midlands or the Lancashire favourite, the meat and potato pie. In Scotland we have the Scotch Pie.

"It probably originated in the first half of the 19th century as a cheap and easy food for an ever-growing population in towns and cities arising out of the Industrial Revolution.

"A pie consists of a thin pastry shell filled originally with minced mutton mixed with rusks, seasoning and water. It was topped with a thin pastry lid.

"A pie can be eaten hot or cold and, since the Second World War, beef has replaced mutton as the main ingredient."

Alan said: "Seek out a maker of good pies and you will discover a real treat. Peppery and juicy, with good minced beef in a crispy case, and they are delicious.

"Possibly not ultra healthy, but as part of a balanced diet, pies are well worth the risk of an extra calorie or two."

FACTS TO CHEW OVER:

· Scots consume 30 million pies a year

· Prospective Mayor of London, Boris Johnson loves them

· Glasgow pies were called tuppeny struggles

· Around 70 of Britain's best bakers and butchers regularly vie for the title

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