What’s your dream job? Pilot, captain of a superyacht, rock star? What about Chief Judge of a pie competition?
Step up celebrity chef and bona fide pie lover Gareth Stewart. The former MKR New Zealand judge is national executive chef of Nourish Group, owners of 15 of our best restaurants, including Euro, Jervios Steak House, Crab Shack, Shed 5, Pravda Café and Grill, and Soul Bar & Bistro.
There is a danger when listening to Gareth talk about pies that you will end up desperately needing one yourself. Gareth has just been announced as the 2019 Bakels NZ Supreme Pie Awards celebrity chef judge and he
can’t wait to start tastings. “I’m pumped; I’m really looking forward to it.
“I love the personal touch of a pie. There are the ingredients and recipes that have been handed down for generations that people are really, really proud of. So I’m looking to taste that in the pie and also people’s providence as well.”
Through his years as a UK-born, London- based chef he worked at Claridges Hotel, Michelin-starred The Greenhouse, and Mews of Mayfair before heading to New Zealand 12 years ago with his Kiwi-born wife. But one of the many joys Brits and Kiwis have in common is a love of pies. Gareth loved the regional differences in the UK, from the pie and mash shops of London to the Cornish pasties of the West Country.
“My heritage is I’m half Jamaican and we have a different type of pie called a patty, which is kind of a half pasty, half pie and it’s filled with spicy beef mince with Scotch bonnet chillies. From a very young age I used to eat hundreds of them. I remember going to a party and there were piles of them and I remember parking up next to a pile and working my way through them. Delicious!”
In New Zealand Gareth creates gourmet pies. Many feature French cooking techniques such as the duck pithivier – duck confit wrapped in a ball with savoy cabbage and then surrounded by flaky pastry, which is currently on the Euro menu.
“I’ve got an amazing recipe for a pie I used to make at Soul Bar called Steak and Bluff Oyster Pie Charles Dickens. You braise off the steak and that goes into the pie mould. The actual lid of the pie has a hole in it so when you bake it nothing comes up, but when the pie comes out of the oven cooked you push the oysters in. The oysters are just warmed and it’s beautiful. I also love fish pie having grown up in Portsmouth next to the seaside, so seafood is always a big one for me.”
When judging the Bakels NZ Supreme Pie Awards Gareth says he’s looking for the flavours of New Zealand regions and the personalities behind pies from those places. “I’m looking forward to tasting the differences and seeing some good pastry. There is something very honest about a pie and I think that’s what I love about them. They’re very honest. There’s no bullshit
To find out more about the 2019 NZ Bakels Supreme Pie Awards, visit https://pieawards.nz
Entries close on June 27 at 5pm. Judging takes place on July 25th, with the winner being announced at a star-studded event on July 30th.