Venison pie wins Torbay baker national Apprentice Award

19 Jun 2024

Pie fan and apprentice baker, Beau Corric is known to search out unique flavours of pies just for the share delight of experiencing a new taste. His exploration has led to him winning the 2024 NZ Bakels Apprentice Pie Maker Award with his slow-cooked venison pie with cranberry, roast vegetables and red wine sauce pie, and his mince and cheese pie.

To win Apprentice Pie Maker both pies have to be awarded the highest marks during judging.

Beau is in his second year of a three- year apprenticeship with Sopheap Long and Bunna Hout at Euro Patisserie in Torbay, Auckland. He has worked there for nearly five years, starting as a school boy working part-time before he was offered a job on leaving school and a chance to complete an apprenticeship in baking through the NZ Bakels Apprenticeship Programme.

Beau says of his win: “I was pretty shocked when I heard about it in the morning. I was half asleep and then I get the call and ah ‘you’ve won!’ and it was quite a big surprise for me. We were all standing there in the bakery, trying to keep it in, while I was talking on the phone and then afterwards we all celebrated. My family was definitely happy about it when I came home and told them. They were really excited.”  

Sopheap Long says: “Beau has been working with me in the bakery since he was about 15 years old and in high school. This year he has won first place and we are all so proud of him.”

Beau’s venison pie is on sale in the shop and Sopheap says it is really popular, especially with the cranberry and red wine flavour. “Last year he didn’t add the cranberry. He had the roast vegetables and cheese and this year he wanted to do something different with the venison. When I tasted it, it was like ‘oh my god’ it just melted in your mouth and especially with the roast veggies as well; just beautiful!” 

When not working Beau likes to go and try pies in different places of New Zealand and it was in Foxton that he tasted venison in a pie.

“I saw a bakery and went in and there was one pie that was venison and gravy with camembert. I tried that and that’s how I got the idea. It was really good and I hadn’t tried something like this before. It was the first time I’d tried venison and it was way better than steak with no fat or skin. So I thought I’d give it a go and see if anyone else likes it.”

In 2023 Beau entered his first venison pie in the Apprentice Pie Maker Awards and came second. Reassessing the flavour profile of his recipe for 2024, he decided it needed a bit of something else to enhance it. He added red wine and cranberry which proved the perfect combination.

Beau says he is very grateful to Sopheap and Bunna for giving him the opportunity to become a baker and for giving him the skills to succeed. “Without them I wouldn’t even know how to make a pie.” He’d also like to thank NZ Bakels. “I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them.”

The NZ Bakels Apprentice Pie Maker Awards is open to all bakery apprentices, who are required to make a gourmet meat pie and a mince and cheese pie for judging. Points are awarded for pastry colour, cleanness, lift of the top pastry and the overall appearance before the pie is cut and the filling is assessed. The pies are then heated for the tasting round.

NZ Bakels managing director, Brent Kersel says the competition gives the apprentices the chance to challenge themselves against their peers. “The competition shows what they have learnt and what they can do in the bakery; they have a greater understanding. And winning this competition gives them recognition and helps them go forward in their career. The idea of the competition is they make the whole pie from scratch, the pastry, the filling. They have to come up with the idea of the filling. They have to make a mince and cheese pie, and a gourmet meat pie that they can make to their discretion. It’s great to see the flare they put into some of these pies.”

Brent says over the time that the competition has been running they have seen some winners go on to own their own businesses. “The ones that have won are all still in the industry and it’s great to see.  This competition and a baking apprenticeship definitely lift their skills level. And within the apprenticeship arena there are a couple of competitions. There’s the Young Bread Baker of the Year. That is a $10,000 grant to spend on study. So there are some great things that apprentices can achieve in their apprenticeship but not only that, once they are out of their apprenticeship, if they have achieved well in these sort of competitions the big food companies show an interest and they can go on to further training and opportunities within the industry.”

Of the standard of entries in the Apprentice Pie Maker, Brent said that it was almost like judging the Bakels NZ Supreme Pie Awards, and he congratulated Beau Corric (1st), Lianna MacFarlane (2nd) of U-Bake, Timaru, and Benjamin Crosby of The Baker, Tirau.

Arrow Back