Twenty-one years can make a huge difference to what we eat; in pie fillings our tastes have changed dramatically to reflect New Zealand’s food evolution.
As NZ Bakels prepares to celebrate its 21st birthday, NZ Bakels Supreme Pie Awards, managing director Brent Kersel wonders whether current trends such as turmeric and cauliflower as health foods, goat’s meat, purple vegetables or Filipino and Maori cuisines will be evident in this year’s pie entries.
As new food trends have altered what we eat in our everyday diet, so too have the ways they are presented. While they may first appear as restaurant food from various cultures such as Indian, Thai, Mexican or Vietnamese, they often evolve to new pie fillings where trend meets convenience, says Mr Kersel.

In 1996 when his company started the NZ Bakels Supreme Pie Awards most bakeries were
producing fairly standard pies filled with mince, steak, chicken or bacon and eggs. And of course apple pies were the number one fruit pie on the market.
“Mince was yet to discover cheese, steak hadn’t even heard of caramelised onion, and chicken was yet to be introduced to spices and cream to become the very popular butter chicken. But by 2010 butter chicken pies were huge!”
“In 2006 we started to see spices emerging in our Gourmet Meat category with entries such as authentic steak curry and potato; Greek lamb with creamy spinach, roast pimento and feta; and Bombay pork, kumara, onion, pinch of curry with cumin salt and ground pepper.
“By 2008 Mexican food was influencing dining and we had a Mexican beef with chilli, red pepper and bean mix filling. We’ve seen trends in using offal in restaurant dining. However, it is one trend that hasn’t come through strongly in pies despite steak and kidney being quite a traditional filling. We did have an entry of minted lambs fry, bacon and mushrooms once.”
“The Gourmet Fruit category is also proving to be a trendsetter. We’ve seen the use of various alcohols in poaching or enhancing flavour. For example pear poached in red wine with strawberries, and exotic fruits like French pears, and nuts such as caramelised walnuts or almond shavings and so on. And of course everybody fell in love with salted caramel in 2015 so it was only natural that we would receive a vanilla bean, poached apple and salted caramel pie.”
Mr Kersel says year-on-year Pie Awards categories Gourmet Meat, Gourmet Fruit and Café
Boutique continue to impress judges with their mix of trend-setting fillings featuring prime New Zealand produce.
“We can’t wait to see what bakers come up with this year. Is kale still popular? I’m not sure how quinoa would go in a pie. We have the best produce in the world; that combined with cultural influences means it can only lead to great-tasting pies”
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