With the winners of British Pie Awards being announced in Melton today, Katharine Walmsley and family - expert pie producers who own Nice Pie in Old Dalby, tell the Melton Times about the craft of making perfect pies.
Q What was the inspiration behind the business?
A After I (Katharine) initially made pies as a hobby, it was the growing demand for my homemade artisan gourmet pies that inspired us to start a pie-making family business.
Q Do you always taste your pies first before selling them and which filling is your best seller?
A We absolutely always taste our pie fillings, every batch of pie filling for every different type of pie is tasted and tweaked to perfection.
Our best seller and most unusual exotic pie is kangaroo closely followed by crocodile.
Q You appeared on Channel 4’s Friday Night Feast show hosted by Jamie Oliver and Jimmy Doherty. What tips did you learn from them?
A Having Jamie Oliver and Jimmy Doherty come to film and make pies with us in our bakery is what we would say is “a once in a life time experience.”
We were all understandably extremely apprehensive and nervous having a world famous chef come to our home.
We had no need to be anxious though as Jamie and Jimmy were real down-to-earth guys who sat down in our living room with us drinking cups of tea chatting.
I asked Jamie if he were me would he do anything differently, to which he replied: “Not at all Katharine, you couldn’t perfect your pies anymore.”
Q How do you source some of the rare fillings you use for your pies, such as squirrel?
A We don’t kill squirrels for our pies, we source them from reputable game meat suppliers.
As Jamie and Jimmy highlighted on their programme, grey squirrels are not an indigenous species to this country and are currently culled annually. Their their carcass is disposed of but we’ve found a very good use for what was once a wasted meat. We feel it’s a lack of understanding as squirrel is a tasty organic free range meat just as rabbit, hare, wood pigeon, wild venison.
Q With the winners of British Pie Awards being announced today, is this a busy time of year for the business?
A The British Pie Awards are a very busy time for us as, with the farm shop and the tea garden proving ever more popular. We are entering the British Pie Awards again this year, we do hope to do well but there is a lot of competition, so we will just have to wait and see.
Q What award would you like to win and what are you most proud of to date?
A We aim to be the best artisan gourmet pie-makers in the country and we want to continue growing our farm shop and tea room for which we already have commenced work on expansion.
Entering the British Pie awards last year and achieving so many awards including champion small producer and being featured on the Jamie Oliver show, all within 18 months of business, are the things we are most proud of.
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