For more than 30 years the Official Great Aussie Pie Competition has built a history supported by pride and passion among bakers and pastry cooks in the art of pie-making while forming an industry benchmark for excellence and raising the quality standards of pies and sausage rolls throughout Australia.
At a meeting held during the Fine Food Show, baking industry identities John Ross of Pastrycooks and Bakers News Monthly, and Craig Perry, formerly of GFW Foodservice, came up with the idea of an annual competition to find “the best meat pie in Australia”. The principal objectives for the Competition were to provide a national platform for quality pie improvement while providing a vehicle to gain maximum media exposure for pies and pie makers in their battle for a share of the fast-food dollar.
1990 Sydney – International Catering Trade Fair (ICTF)
The first Competition was held in conjunction with ICTF in Sydney. Sponsors included GFW Foodservice, the Australian Meat and Livestock Corporation (AMLC), Pastrycooks and Bakers News Monthly, Ansett, Comet Couriers, Menumaster Microwave Ovens, Lindsay Pie Making Equipment and G.G. Benjamin Pty Ltd. John Ross and Craig Perry developed the original Official Great Aussie Pie Competition logo, and the judging team was led by senior TAFE baking lecturer, Mike Fleming. The Overall Winner was Colonial Bakery, Milsons Point, Sydney.
1991 Melbourne – Foodservice
Once again the Competition was an outstanding success and became a major drawcard for the Foodservice Trade Fair. The Overall Winner was Beaumont’s Pies from Geelong in Victoria.
1992 Sydney – International Catering Trade Fair
John Ross took over the marketing activities while Craig Perry’s company DCP Marketing ran the competition. The judging panel included industry personality Ian McKenzie (Ansett Catering), Brian Coulthart, and Neil Beattie (BRI). The Overall Winner was Barry’s Buns from North Ryde in Sydney.
1993 Melbourne – Foodservice
EOI Foods and Polytek Food Equipment became sponsors. Media interest included an 8-minute segment on the Bert Newton Show and national TV news coverage both before and after the event. Judges were led once by Ian McKenzie and supported by Robyn Gosney (AMLC), Brian O’Callaghan (Wild Holly Cakes), and Henny Hillebrand (William Angliss College, Melbourne). The Overall Winner was Sunrise Pies of Launceston in Tasmania.
1994 Sydney – International Catering Trade Fair
Weston Milling and KAM Products became sponsors, while the withdrawal of the Meat and Livestock Corporation allowed for the introduction of the Gourmet Pie Competition which was held on one day only with separate judges. The Competition attracted record entries from across Australia and national media coverage. The Overall Winner was Betabake, Milperra, New South Wales, the first large manufacturer to win the Competition.
1995 Melbourne – Foodservice
Craig Perry relinquished his role with the competition and John Ross took over management. Entries matched previous years with the large number of gourmet entries having to be judged over two days. Kim McArthur, from TAFE Wollongong, made Great Aussie Pie History by becoming the first female chief judge and undertook a review of the judging format for use in later years. Channel 7 sent a TV crew to spend the day at the Competition. The Overall Winner was Egon’s Cake Shop from Lower Templestowe in Victoria.
1996 Sydney – International Catering Trade Fair
TNT Couriers became a sponsor and the official competition courier. Kim McArthur remained as judge coordinator and judging was expanded to all days of the Trade Fair to allow time to judge the record number of entries. The revised judging format was instituted to great acclaim. The media highlight this year was an appearance by John Ross on the Midday Show with Kerri-Anne Kennerley. The Overall Winner was Stanley’s Pies from Albany in Western Australia, and Cronulla Pie Shop in Sydney won the Gourmet Section.
1997 Brisbane – International Catering Trade Fair
Moffat became a sponsor and ran an on-site pie-making demonstration which formed part of the overall stand. Once again media coverage was exceptional with all three local TV channels announcing the winners on the last day. Nationally, TV news coverage appeared on all channels. The Overall Winner was Goldstein’s Bakery from Gold Coast in Queensland, while Loftus Pies in Kirrawee, New South Wales, won the Gourmet Section.
1998 Sydney – International Catering Trade Fair
Moffat ran a highly successful on-site bakery which added a whole new dimension to the Competition area. Media coverage included a live cross to the Channel 9 Today Show, nationwide TV news features, and a feature story in Sydney’s Daily Telegraph. The Overall Winner was Boscastle Pastries from Collingwood in Victoria, while Elaine’s Pie Stop in Mona Vale, Sydney, won the Gourmet Section.
1999 Melbourne – Foodservice
Silverwater Bakery Equipment replaced Moffat as a silver sponsor and continued to run the on-site bakery at the Competition. Media coverage included a direct TV broadcast by Peter Howard on the Channel 9 Today Show and an appearance on Channel 7’s Denise Drysdale program. Both the Official Great Aussie Meat Pie Competition and the Gourmet Pie Competition were judged over five days with 10 judges working under chief judge Shayne Bell. The Overall Winner was Aussie Treats from Cardiff in New South Wales, while Mick’s Bakehouse in Leeton, New South Wales won the Gourmet Section.
2000 Sydney – International Catering Trade Fair
With the Sydney Olympics only weeks away, interest in the Competition was at an all-time high. A new website was established, and the Competition received a record 1100 entries, along with extensive media coverage. The Overall Winner was Loftus Pies from Kirrawee in New South Wales, while Mick’s Bakehouse in Leeton, New South Wales, won the Gourmet Section and made Great Aussie Pie history for the second year in a row.
2001 Brisbane – International Catering Trade Fair
Long-serving industry expert Brian Casserley was appointed chief judge and led a team of 10 experienced judges through the process of 1100 entries. The Overall Winner was 1999 runner-up, Little Jack Horners from Argenton, New South Wales, while Goldstein’s Bakery, Gold Coast, Queensland, won the Gourmet Section.
2002 Melbourne – Fine Food Australia
This year’s Competition attracted well over 1000 entries judged by a team of 13, under the expert guidance of Brian Casserley. William Angliss College supported the event by supplying two judges and numerous apprentices. The Overall Winner was The Purple Onion Café from Heathmont, Victoria, while The Miami Bakehouse, Mandurah, Western Australia, won the Gourmet Section.
2003 Sydney – Fine Food Australia
Cereform and General Mills became gold sponsors, replacing Weston Milling. Entries exceeded all expectations with an additional 345 entries over the previous year’s record. The Overall Winner was Village Hot Bake Bakery/Café in Dubbo, New South Wales, while The Upper Crust in Collaroy, New South Wales, won the Gourmet Section.
2004 Melbourne – Fine Food Australia
Allied Mills became a gold sponsor, replacing Cereform. The competition attracted a record number of entries – double those in Melbourne two years earlier and 100 more than the record in Sydney the previous year. The Overall Winner was Rolling Pin Pie & Cake Shop from Ocean Grove, Victoria, while Bremen Patisserie, Umina, New South Wales and Goldsteins, Ashmore City, Queensland, tied for first place in the Gourmet Section.
2005 Sydney – Fine Food Australia
Rosella became a silver sponsor, while Fonterra and Microfan became bronze sponsors. Long-time supporter EOI reached 12 years of platinum sponsorship and Lindsay Pie Making Equipment continued as the sole remaining foundation sponsor, with 16 years of support. Entries once again set a new record while media interest continued at a very high level, including three live national television crosses, radio interviews, and newspaper coverage. The Overall Winner was Village Hot Bake from Dubbo in New South Wales who made Great Aussie Pie History by being the first competitor to win the outright prize twice. The Gourmet Trophy was won by Mick’s Bakehouse, Wagga Wagga, New South Wales.
2006 Melbourne – Fine Food Australia
New sponsors MIWE and Heinz were a welcome addition to the sponsorship team. Strong support from all media across the country continued, including two live crosses on the Channel 9 Today Show. The Overall Winner was Merwans Pies, Langwarren, Victoria and for the second time Mick’s Bakehouse, Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, won the Gourmet Section.
2007 Sydney – Fine Food Australia
We were sad to say goodbye to the Australian Mushroom Growers Association after a 10-year partnership but were pleased to welcome Cookon Catering Equipment as a new sponsor. A massive new prize was offered by Lindsay Pie Making Equipment, makers of the Simple Simon range, of an $8500 hand depositor, which every entrant had a chance to win. Heinz introduced a new trophy called The Heinz Plate, which was awarded to the Overall Winner, Trinity Height Bakehouse, Kelso, New South Wales. Dough Fusion, Coolum Beach, Queensland, won the Gourmet Section. The winner of the Simple Simon Pie Depositor was Stewart’s Bakery, Mt. Clear, Ballarat, Victoria.
2008 Melbourne – Fine Food Australia
Another successful year for the competition with over 150 more entries than Melbourne 2006. A team of 29 people worked on the Melbourne event with 13 judges and 16 backroom helpers including seven students from William Angliss TAFE. Great Aussie Pie History was made by the Overall Winner, Dough Fusion, Coolum, Queensland, and Mooroopna Bakery, Mooroopna, Victoria, who won the Gourmet Section.
2009 Sydney – Fine Food Australia
This year the competition received national media exposure on Channel 7’s Sunrise program and Channel 9 National News. The Overall Winner was Mick’s Bakehouse, Wagga Wagga, New South Wales. La Bakehouse Cafe, Penrith, New South Wales won the Gourmet Section and Parkview Bakery, Maryborough, Victoria, won the runner-up trophy, The Heinz Plate.
2010 Melbourne – Fine Food Australia
Great Aussie Pie History was made by Micks Bakehouse (wagga Wagga NSW) when they won the Overall Winner for the second year in a row. The winner of the Gourmet Section was Denmark Bakery, Denmark, Western Australia. The runner-up trophy, The Heinz Plate, was won by Mooroopna Bakery, Mooroopna, Victoria.
2011 Sydney – Fine Food Australia
The Overall Winner was St George’s Bakehouse, Kensington, South Australia, while Mick’s Bakehouse, Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, won the Gourmet Section. The runner-up trophy, The Heinz Plate, was won by Cherie’s Pies, Freshwater, New South Wales. Following the Competition, John Ross stepped down from full-time involvement and the rights for the Competition were bought by the Australian Pie Council, a consortium of baking industry organisations. The Competition was renamed the Official Great Aussie Pie Competition, to reflect the growing gourmet category and the diversity of Australian culture.