A pie is a deeply personal thing

The Weekend Sun editor Daniel Hutchinson sizes up one of Pat Lam’s award-winning pies.

Why does the name Pat Lam equate with excellence – Pat Lam dynamic number eight, All Black, Manu Samoa captain, Barbarian and Super Rugby Blues coach.

And Pat Lam pie man – right now, that’s the Pat Lam on everyone’s lips, literally. Because he’s the best. And should Pat Lam rugby man even be uttered in the same breath as Pat Lam pie man.

All Tauranga is aware the Bethlehem pie man has just won his sixth Bakels NZ Supreme Pie Award with his mince and cheese pie. “Stunning,” the judges called it. In fact, Pat should only be news if he didn’t win. Then the city would launch an official inquiry.

But while the judge’s decision is final, The Weekend Sun decided to take the judging out of the hands of those highfalutin foodies and do its only analysis. No offence intended Pat – just some down to earth, common, every day, garden variety opinion from the street, the punters who eat pies and can sniff a good one from 100 metres.

Soon as word came out about the King of Pies crown staying rightfully on Pat’s head, The Weekend Sun went out and bought a dozen for an office survey. Here’s the less than scientific outcome with a very broad margin of error.

Alan’s a delightful Pom. So pies are in his blood – pork pies, chicken and leek, gala, steak and kidney and all those other English delights. Alan hooked into a Pat Lam mince and cheese. “Great! Pastry not too soft or flaky and the filling’s fine and tasty.”

Coming from England he’s used to “chewy lumpy bits” in pies. “You know,” says Alan, “gristly bits, you don’t know what it is or where it came from.” But no chewy lumpy bits in Pat’s pies.

Dan’s been round the block, he’s a pie aficionado, from Kaitangata to Kaitaia. “Pat’s was a good pie – a classic mince and cheese, although there wasn’t much cheese. It ticks all the boxes and it won’t disappoint.” Then he takes his analysis to a new emotional level. “A pie is a deeply personal thing. For me, I’m looking for an experimental recipe. I’m looking for the next evolution in pie making. It wasn’t the best I’ve had.”

Aimee-Leigh has been known to bring lettuce and vegemite sandwiches for her Sun lunch so she was drooling at the prospect of a Pat Lam pie. “One large egg and delicious morsels of flavoursome bacon, encased in a just right pastry, not too crisp, not too soggy, what’s not to like? No messing around with added vegetables, just bacon and egg, mmm!”  We guess that’s a pass.

Kate “devoured” her mince and cheese but was disappointed she was “only blessed with cheesy presence after eating half her pie.” Kate reckons Pat’s pies are up there, but not the best she’s eaten. “There’s a delicious butter chicken pie from Jesters in Palmerston North. It’s open ‘til the early hours of Sunday morning, which is wonderful after a big night on the town.”

Other Dan wanted more filling in his roast pork apple sauce pie. “The flavour was nice and the pastry great - no flaky mess.” But his favourite pie would be from Cherry Wood Bakery. “Butter chicken and love the classic round shape instead of Patrick’s square thin pie.”

Deb had a vegetarian pie – 7/10 she scored it. “The pastry was nice, flaky and buttery. The filling was generous, however it tasted more of pepper than of the vegetables” – which she didn’t enjoy.

Jen’s another Pom and by her own admission an awkward eater. “I don’t eat beef so leaves me vegetable pies, boring! Fish pies, eww! Or chicken pies that are usually covered in runny mushroom sauce.” She doesn’t want to sound picky but she hates fungi.

But she was so taken by her Pat Lam pie that she was moved to an expletive. “Bloody delicious, nice chunks of chicken and bacon and a thick spicy sauce without a mushroom in sight! It would have been a 10 but there was no mash potato on top.” You can take the girl out of England…