The best pie makers in Scotland will find out next week if they are to be crowned World Scotch Pie “Champion of Champions”.
Pie aficionados were in Dunfermline on Tuesday when they tasted pies from 15 former World Scotch Pie champions to determine who is the best of the best.
The judging took place under not just top secret but also strict social distancing conditions – and the winner of the ultimate accolade will have to wait until Wednesday May 12 to be crowned World Scotch Pie Champion of Champions 2021.
A total of 15 bakers and butchers from across Scotland, all of whom have previously held the title, were eligible to take part in this one-off competition created to allow some of Scotland’s best food artisans to shine in what has been a tough year all round for so many as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Vying for the title are: Sugar and Spice of Auchterarder, The Kandy Bar of Saltcoats, James Pirie & Sons of Newtyle, Christie the Baker of Airdrie, Boghall Butchers of Boghall, Murrays Bakers of Perth, The Little Bakery of Dumfries, Brownings the Bakers of Kilmarnock, WF Stark of Buckhaven, Murdoch Brothers of Forres, Macleans Highland Bakery of Forres, Irvine’s Bakery of Beith, John G Renicks of Thornhill, Aulds Bakeries of Greenock, and RT Stuart of Buckhaven.
All the mouth-watering pies were put to a blind taste-off at Bakers House, Scottish Bakers Dunfermline HQ, by two pie experts – head judge Ian Nelson and Paul Long, managing director of BAKO Northern and Scotland, who spent many hours putting the pastry perfections through their paces to determine which pie looked and tasted the best.
Scottish Bakers, the trade association that supports the bakery industry in Scotland and which has organised The World Championship Scotch Pie Awards for the past 22 years, announced late last year that the competition would run this year, but with a slightly different format for 2021 only.
Each year, the title is hard-fought by butchers and bakers throughout Scotland and beyond but with coronavirus restrictions currently preventing gatherings, the 2021 competition is being managed a little differently.
“Restrictions in place to combat Covid-19 meant that our annual November judging day was not possible and neither was the awards lunch in January,” said Scottish Bakers chief executive, Alasdair Smith.
“So, we have taken the decision to run the competition, but with some changes for this year to ensure the awards retain their place in the annual calendar.
“We invited all previous World Scotch Pie Champions to enter their winning Scotch pie into a 2021 Champions of Champions competition. They were asked to submit their pies for a socially-distanced judging which was held blind to ensure each pie was judged on its own merits.”
Champion of Champions
With judging now having taken place, the Champion of Champions will be announced on May 12, although everything is subject to possible change based on future changes to Covid-19 safety measures.
Mr Long said: “I have judged this competition over many years and I have to say the standard of entries from past winners did not disappoint so selecting the best was a tough job but one pie did indeed stand out from the crowd.”
Gordon King, executive manager of the competition partners, Scottish Craft Butchers, said: “Scottish Craft Butchers are delighted to support the champion of champions scotch pie evaluation
“In these difficult times it is more important than ever to recognise the traditional skills and hard work that goes in to develop and produce a truly iconic Scottish product.
“We look forward to seeing the past champions of butchers, bakers and all pie makers, do battle to see who will be crowned the best of the best. Good luck to all the entrants.”