Female baker makes history with Supreme Pie Award win

Auckland baker Sopheap Long of Euro Patisserie in Torbay has won the 24th Bakels NZ Supreme Pie Award with a seriously good steak and cheese pie.

In winning, Sopheap is also making baking history by being the first female to win a Bakels NZ Supreme Pie Award since its inception in 1996.

NZ Bakels managing director Brent Kersel says that it’s exciting to see Sopheap reach the top of baking stardom after having only won her Apprentice Pie Maker Award in 2019.

“This is an enormous achievement for her and we congratulate her on her success. It shows that if you are determined to work hard and be committed to the quality of what you produce then it can take you far and reward you well. Pie fans from everywhere will be heading for her bakery to try her pies and I’m sure they won’t be disappointed.”

Mr Kersel says: “When it came to judging Sopheap’s gold-winning steak and cheese pie in the final round to find the Supreme winner it seemed like all of us judging stopped in our tracks as we tasted it and we were all deep in thought. This pie has everything going for it! The steak was chunky but so tender it just melted in your mouth. It was surrounded by rich, dark gravy and topped with a semi-soft tangy cheese; just delicious. The golden flaky pastry had perfect layering and the base was lightly golden brown with a hand hold-able firmness. We just couldn’t fault it.”

Mr Kersel says that to win the Supreme Award Sopheap’s pie had to outshine just on 5000 pies in the competition this year, entered by 465 bakeries.

“On more than one occasion we had to go back and take another look at the top finalists in a few of the categories because the results were either a tie or half a point difference. It was a very tightly run race to the finish line. Maybe during periods of lockdown in 2020 our bakers spent time polishing their skills. The standard of entries certainly seems to suggest that.”

The steak and cheese, and the mince and cheese categories year-on-year receive the highest number of entries in the competition, an indicator that Kiwis really like the blend of beef and cheese, even though bacon and egg pies are a huge breakfast seller and gourmet meat pies are rapidly growing in popularity, as are the vegetarian pies.

“This year the Bacon and Egg gold award pie had a creamy sauce surrounding the egg and wonderful smoky bacon. The Gourmet Meat gold winner was slow-cooked Wagyu beef curry, perfectly balanced sweet and savoury spices in an Asian-fusion style. Both demonstrate that pies today are enormously superior to when we started this competition and yet they are still an affordable, nourishing meal,” says Mr Kersel.

Bakers from across New Zealand converged at the Hilton Hotel in Auckland on July 27 for the 24th Bakels NZ Supreme Pie Awards - a Bourbon St, New Orleans themed night - to celebrate the champions among them and crown the first ever Pie Queen, Sopheap Long.

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