Snacks focus: Where pie is king

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WHO ATE all the pies? Well, the population of New Zealand is certainly doing its bit to tackle the world pie mountain, shifting more than 120 million...

WHO ATE all the pies? Well, the population of New Zealand is certainly doing its bit to tackle the world pie mountain, shifting more than 120 million a year - more than a population of just over four million could justify on purely subsistence grounds.

They eat them in bars, in cars, at home, and on the beach. As a result, the classic New Zealand pie is a more robust proposition than the typical British variety. None of your melt-in-the-mouth flaky pasty here, we're talking about something you can stick in the back pocket of your rugby shorts before the match, and enjoy as a half time snack no matter how much rough-and-tumble the scrum has inflicted.

For expat Kiwi businessman Nick Soper, bringing the pie culture to the pubs and bars of Britain has long been a dream. "Even in pubs which have a strong food trade, there are occasions when you need a snack that's a bit more substantial than crisps or nuts," he says.

These occasions include sport on TV or pub quiz nights, when the bar is busy, or simply mid-afternoon and end-of-evening trading - kitchen downtimes for many pubs. To meet this challenge, Nick has assembled a pie-making dream team including:

  • Peter Gordon, award-winning NZ chef and menu consultant for the Gourmet Burger Kitchen brand
  • Graham Heaven, six-times New Zealand Baker of the Year and a multiple National Supreme Pie Champion winner
  • Master butchers M Newitt & Sons of Thame, Oxfordshire, winner of the Best British Butcher award.

The end result is Brother Tom's, a range of home-made pies and savouries, which has its official launch at Publican Live in London this week.

Nick speaks of the passion for the range. "Peter has given us mouth-bursting, flavoursome fillings," he says. "These range from classics such as steak and cheddar to more exotic varieties such as Moroccan lamb, and even non-meat varieties such as butternut squash, caramelised red onion and feta."

Meanwhile, "Graham's unique tin-baked pastry is the product of more than 40 years baking experience, delivering a tasty, soft, light-eating pastry which is not only ideal as a plate product, but delivers a great hand-held eat".

The final member of the team, Tom Newitt, "carefully selects our cuts of meat, ensuring the pies always provide a tender, succulent eat".

All 12 fillings are offered in a range of sizes, deep-fill, medium-sized oval pies, and smaller snacking pies and savouries targeting customers looking for a quick, hot snack. A merchandising unit displays hot pies on the bartop or back-bar. "We see a great opportunity for impulse sales," says Nick.

• Publican Live takes place at Olympia from April 1 to 3. See

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