A not so humble pie

Lesley Lambert and her pies. Photo: Bruce Barnard.

It almost got lost in all the brouhaha about the winning ways of a certain bacon and egg pie here in Tauranga.

It’s a maximum 300 gram offering – filled with slow-roasted prime beef, caramelised onion and one other crucial quality ingredient which we will come back to.

And it rated well enough for ‘highly commended’ in the cafe boutique category of the 2017 Bakels New Zealand Supreme Pie Awards. “A huge accolade for us,” says Lesley Lambert, owner of the wee food boutique, Kitchen Republic in Bureta Rd. “It is nice to be recognised.”

A huge accolade for a small local business. And to give that ‘highly commended’ some perspective, the pie was basically fourth out of 180 entries.

Lesley backed herself – entering just one pie, her piece de resistance, a special pie, in just one of the 12 categories. “We knew it was one of our best sellers and would go quite well,” says Lesley. “So we concentrated on that one pie and doing it well.”

And because of the huge following for that pie, she wasn’t surprised when it succeeded, when it was honoured.

The gourmet beef and caramelised onion pie is the ‘Kitchen’s’ own creation – “Quality ingredients, slow-roasted and built it from that.”

Think pie awards and you think Patrick Lam, you think Gold Star Bakery in Bethlehem and you think bacon and egg pies. Because Patrick has made the Bakel bacon and egg pie award his own. But down on Bureta Rd there’s another pie on the block. “And on the back of this success, we may put in a few extra entries next year,” says Lesley.

And there’s more to making a pie that cramming something interesting into a pastry casing. “Everything we do is home-baked on site and we do a small range of pies, including steak and mushroom, gourmet steak and mince and cheese. So it’s about home-baked goodness and doing it from scratch.”

Now mix in the crucial ingredient that can’t be measured by the teaspoon. It’s love. “Made with love is our ethos,” says Lesley. “That’s what drives this business. We make everything with love.”

“Toni and Lisa are two beautiful girls who work in the kitchen.” The kitchen is out the back and on site of course because everything at Kitchen Republic starts and finishes right here. “They really excel at turning out beautiful food.”

Lesley’s background was in Australia in food manufacturing, sales and marketing before coming home and buying the Bureta Rd cafe. She was looking for a big commercial kitchen. Three years ago they rebranded and haven’t looked back.

“And the boutiquey little cafe is just beautiful,” says Lesley, with a growing local fan base since word of Bureta’s ‘highly commended’ gourmet beef and caramelised onion pie filtered out online, in the paper and through word of mouth. “Sales have definitely increased because of it.”

One pie’s success is breeding success on Bureta Rd.