Heavily influenced by his granny and north-east family-run bakery Murdoch Allan, Gary Craib has had his eyes on the pies since he was “a wee nipper”.
“I was always interested in food,” says the Strichen local. “My granny (Mary Morrison) was a great baker and I used to love helping her.
“It was by chance, when I left school, a job as an apprentice baker came up at the local Murdoch Allans shop. This is where I served my time and learned about all aspects of baking, including making pies.”
For context, the 41-year-old has become increasingly popular in the north-east through his business Pie Aroma. It sells all things, you guessed it, pies.
Feast your pies on the Pie Aroma range, which includes salt and pepper chicken, and Jack Daniels and Cola flavours
Pie Aroma launched in October 2021.
Its range has been commended on several occasions, with its macaroni pie winning gold at last year’s World Scotch Pie Championships. The business’ sausage roll and cheeseburger pie took home silver.
Gary has entered again for the 2024 awards.
“The flavour that has proved popular is the steak and macaroni,” adds Gary.
“I recently did a Big Mac aroma — that was a big hit. This is a burger and bacon topped with a homemade special sauce and cheese slice.
“My personal favourite is the classic mince pie. I’ve always liked a mince pie but it took a lot of tasting to perfect my one.”
Other flavours include shredded Chinese salt and pepper chicken, steak, doner kebab, pizza, lasagne, pulled pork, breakfast, and mango chicken curry, to name a few.
Where you can find the tasty range — plus what goes into making them
The baker starts production early in the morning, which involves cooking a selection of meats for the pies and preparing their sauces.
Gary said: “Once orders come in from the shops, I start filling and topping the pies ready for the orders.
“They cook for around 15 to 20 minutes, then are put into a blast chill where they cool.
“Once cooled, they’re ready to be packed up and labelled to go out to the shops the following day.”
You’ll find products from Pie Aroma at Whytes of New Pitsligo, Mace in Fraserburgh, Smiddyhill Shop, Watermill Service Station, Kessock Garage, Wholehearted Fraserburgh, Banff Deli and Garage, and Portsoy Ice Cream Shop.
Gary and his fiancée Sarah also attend Fraserburgh Market. It takes place on the last Sunday of every month.
He added: “A lot of my ingredients are locally sourced.
“My beef comes from Auchmaliddie Mains, which is where my kitchen is located.
“I also use local bakers Kindness and Murdoch Allans for my pie shells and lids, while the pastry comes from Websters Bakery in Fraserburgh.
“[The] eggs come from the award-winning C J Grant and other ingredients are sourced from King Foods and McWilliams.”
‘Everyone loves a pie,’ says Gary as he discusses why he decided to start the business
The Pie Aroma director said he has “always had an interest in pies”.
“I used to like going round different butchers and bakers sampling pies to see who had the best (doing my homework I guess),” adds Gary.
“It was during Covid that I had a brain wave — there is a market for fresh, wholesome pies as nobody round here does them. And, of course, everyone loves a pie from the young to the older generation.”
With the help of Pamela Neri, of the Fraserburgh Enterprise Hub, Pie Aroma was born.
Gary started selling pies to friends and family before leaving his full-time job for a part-time role. This allowed him to work on building his business.
He said: “The pies took off so quickly that I had to go full-time making them.
“My first retail outlet was a mobile shop that used to go around all the local villages selling groceries. She took my pies, which helped get my name out there.
“Then when Whytes of New Pitsligo opened they took my pies too, selling them in their deli counter. It’s fair to say they keep me busy.”
Could a Pie Aroma shop be on the horizon?
One of the main aspects Gary loves about running his business is coming up with new and exciting flavours. He has created a ‘special pie of the week’ every week for the past two years.
“Looking to the future of Pie Aroma, I am hoping to expand into a big premises and [open] a shop in my local village where people can come and see the products on display,” he went on to say.
“[I’m] also looking into a jiffy van where I go round local towns and work places selling hot and cold products.
“I would like to say a big thank you to all my customers so far who have bought my pies. Without them, none of this would have been possible. And thanks to the retail shops for supporting a wee business.”