History of a Pie Maker
Back in the late 70’s, when most of my friends were either doing the paper rounds or helping with menial tasks on local farms, my Father was pressuring me to get out and begin earning my way. He suggested I speak with the local village baker, whom of which I owe a great deal to.
I was fortunate enough to obtain two great tutors who taught me their baking skills from two different periods in history. Mr Hale was my first teacher. He had learnt his skills at the beginning of the century, around the First World War. He was fantastic! Then, Mr Sievewright, who gained his skills in the catering corporations, out in the Middle East.
I spent some of my best times at the village bakery in Langham. I started there in 1978 until closure in 1985. During this time, Bread was #1 but in the village, other skills were needed and that’s where I started to develop my pastry skills for pies, pasties and other pastry goods. My working life so far had been a constant tussle between my passion for the bakery and the family business, which in those early days was my Father’s engineering business and in more recent times, my Uncle’s engineering firm.
Therefore, after leaving the Bakery, I spent time working for the family and I stayed there for about 12 months before a job opportunity was advertised on the local drum network. A position had opened up at the local town bakers, Croft Bakery.
I fitted straight in although the work was up a level from the village bakery the town baker was different again using more modern equipment and producing bigger quantities of food. I also broke out into the supermarket industry, working at Morrison’s. My aim was to climb the ladder, from bakery assistant to department manager where better wages could be earned.
In December 2008, whilst I was in the farm shop at Northfield Farm to collect my Christmas bird, I noticed a job advertisement on the counter. They were asking for a pastry wizard with baking skills so I enquired mostly out of curiosity than anything else. Even though the only thing I knew about pork pie manufacturing was something I had seen on the ‘Hairy Bikers’, I figured I’d take a shot at it!
I went home that day and made some sausage rolls, cornish pasties and an apple pie to hand into the farm shop the next day. I got the job on a self employed basis to begin with and started working the following week.
2009 National Pie Awards
2010 British Pork Executive Awards
Gold – Game pie
Silver – Pork pie
2010 National Pie Awards
Best Apple Pie in the UK
2011 British Pork Executive Awards
Gold – Chicken, ham & leek pie, Rhubarb and mixed berry.
Silver – Pork pie.
Bronze – Steak and kidney pie
2011 Robin Hood Championship
Gold – Cornish Pasty
Silver – Apple Pie
Silver – Pork Pie
Silver – Chicken, ham & leek
2011 National Pie Awards
Gold – Apple Pie.
Gold – Rhubarb and mixed berry.
Silver – Chicken, ham & leek.
Bronze – Steak & Kidney Pie.
2016 British Pie Awards
Gold – Steak, Ale & Mushroom Pie
Highly Commended – Bramley Apple Pie
Silver – Chicken, Ham & Leek Pie
Bronze – Gluten Free Steak, Ale & Mushroom Pie
2016 Robin Hood Championship
Winner – Apple Pie
History of Rutland Pie
The area I had to work in contained one stainless steel table, a gas cooker, a sink and the use of a meat mincer as it was the sausage and burger production area and I did have an endless supply of top quality fresh meat from the butchery across the yard.
With things as they were, we still picked up two silver awards @ The National Pie Awards in that first year, 2010 brought further success, winning at The 2010 British Pork Executive Awards. Then in May, I got my biggest surprise when the apple pie won its class as Best Apple Pie in the UK and was also recommended for Supreme Champion but you couldn’t have a fruit pie winning in the heart of meat pie country.
In the new year of 2011, work started on converting one of the units. A new floor was laid, the walls and ceiling cladding were installed, I went on to win awards at the 2011 British Pork Executive Awards.
Unfortunately, not long after this Mr. McCourt said he had deepest respect for me as a baker but he would have to let me go. to sum up my time at Northfield in three words would be enjoyable, challenging and rewarding.
This is where my journey with Rutland Pie begins..