MTJ's first National Pie Competition a success

MTJ held its first-ever National Pie Competition at the Butchers’ Fair in Bolton last weekend.

Northern butchers — and those from further afield — stood up to the challenge, with over 170 pies entered by 36 shops across four categories — pork pie, savoury pie, steak & kidney pie and pasties.

Top prize in the pork pie category went to MTJ competition veteran Allan Bennett from Allan Bennetts Butchers in Codsall. Allan said: “I am absolutely over the moon. We made the pies yesterday, I jellied them this morning and I thought, well they look pretty good, I think we stand a good chance.” Allan said the secret to his success was attention to detail. “If you get the enjoyment that I get out of producing good food and good meat, it shows every time,” he said. “It is the little things that matter, making the pastry right and making sure that the meat is correct. Its just a combination of a lot of things that come together and make a good pie.”

Adrian Jackson of Boxley’s of Wombourne took home two trophies, winning the steak and kidney pie category with what judges described as a “delicious pie” and the savoury pie category for his pork and leek pie. Speaking of his win, Adrian said: “I’m really pleased. We put a lot of hard work in, we try to do the best we can. [Having won] will give customers satisfaction to buy quality products.” He agreed with Allan that attention to detail is the key to success. “Everything has to be impeccable. We make everything we can ourselves to produce the best quality.”

The award for pasties was won by Peter Mellor of Mellors Farm Butchers in Nottinghamshire, whose beef, vegetable and cracked black pepper pasty impressed judges. The win was a first for Peter, who has taken home prizes for pork pies, sausages and steak and kidney pies before, but never a pasty. Asked about what makes his winning pasty so special, he said: “We make the pasty with a shortcrust pastry. We put meat and veg in and we also use cracked black pepper, which gives it an extra, more rounded taste. I think it makes a very good pasty and it has proved that today!”

Peter added that he really values the feedback he gets from judges at competitions such as this. “The reason we come to these things is so that we can improve what we make. It’s all about coming and getting the judges comments,” he said. All four winners said they would be back to compete against the best at next year’s competition.

The pies were judged live at the event by expert judges, including chief executive of the Scottish Federation of Meat Traders Douglas Scott and MTJ’s own reporter Arabella Mileham. “With so many good pies to taste on the day it was not an easy task, but we were really impressed by the winning entry,” said Arabella, who judged the pork pie category.

Once winners had been chosen, trophies were presented on-stage by actress and former ”Allo ’Allo star Vicki Michelle. Speaking before the presentation, Vicki said: “We have been really pleased with the number and quality of entries today and it has been a pleasure to meet so many of you.

“We want this award to build and become an annual event at Butchers’ Fair and we know how important it is to recognise the quality of pies made within your business and the contribution these much-loved food products contribute to butchers’ businesses across the country.”

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