There’s nothing more Australian than a meat pie and Tommy Nguyen, baker and owner of Oven Crisp Bakery in Stockland Riverton, makes Australia’s best.
For the second consecutive year Tommy’s meat pie has been judged the best in the heavily contested plain pie category in The Great Aussie Pie Competition held at the Fine Food Australia exhibition in Sydney. Of course, his sausage rolls won a respectable third place too.
“It feels great to have won again. It’s very exciting for our business because we’re competing against bakeries from across the country and over 1,500 pies,” said Tommy.
Pies are judged on pastry thickness and texture and the amount of meat filling, and are also tasted and scored on their sensory appeal - smell, taste, texture and aftertaste. The pie is also checked for stability — that the filling doesn’t run — and that the pastry is cooked right through.
So what is it that makes Oven Crisp pies the best in the country? Tommy has been making pies for seven years and believes it starts with the recipe.
“I learned how to make an Aussie pie at TAFE. When you bite into our pies you can taste the meat straight away, then you feel the salt in your mouth, and finally the pepper.
For a good pie, you have to use very good meat, the pastry can’t be too thick or too thin and it has to be fluffy and crisp on the bottom, just the right amount of salt and pepper, and you need to get the balance of meat and pastry right. We use a combination of quality mince and chunky steak and cook it until its soft but it’s our gravy that really makes our pies stand out – it’s smooth and full of flavour and just the right texture to hold the filling and the pastry together,” said Tommy.
He says they also strive for consistency in every batch every single day.
“We have perfected our recipe from customer feedback and from judges in competitions and we are constantly refining what we do to ensure our pies are perfect. Our bakers work very hard to make every pie consistent.”
The award has helped to put Oven Crisp on the culinary map.
“Winning has helped us to get our name out to customers. As a small business, it's very hard to get people to know you and to try your products. Word spread quickly and we’ve been baking around the clock to keep up with the demand,” he said.
“As this is the biggest competition in the industry, winning helps us to concentrate on our products to win another award, but more importantly to win the hearts of our customers.”
Next, Tommy is aiming to take on the sausage roll category.
"We want to improve it to bring it up to the next level. This year we won third place but next year we are aiming higher!"
Tommy says that being part of a Stockland centre has also helped his business to thrive. “Stockland has helped to promote our award-winning pie on Facebook, on the Stockland Riverton website and also hung a banner promoting our win in the centre. They’ve also helped with organising media coverage in newspapers, on radio and on Today Tonight. A lot of customers have come to us after seeing the advertising.
“Stockland centres are well organised and that keeps customers coming back to shop, which makes our job easier. Stockland Riverton has everything we could ask for – good management and efficient team members who are always willing to help us,” he said.