Things were certainly hotting up at the Stonegate Pub Company pie competition this year. Making it look as easy as, well pie, was the kitchen manager of the Akenside Traders in Newcastle upon Tyne, Ruth Armstrong, who bowled over the judges with her Curry Lover’s Pie.
Nine kitchen managers came together to present their pies to a panel of judges including Stonegate’s Chief Executive, Toby Smith; Suzanne Baker, Stonegate’s Commercial Director and Dunkley’s Pudding and Pie Ambassador, Bob Durkin.
The judges were on the lookout for a pie that, not only looked and tasted great, but would make customers compelled to order from a menu that already has a great selection of dishes. Ruth’s Curry Lover’s Pie fit all of those criteria.
Ruth was presented with the desirable and aptly shaped Stonegate Pub Company Pie trophy along with a certificate, dinner for two people at a top restaurant and an overnight stay in the city of her choice. Ruth will now visit Dunkley’s bakery in Wellingborough to see the pie put into production in time for the menu launch in April.
Bringing Ruth’s two loves together; working in the kitchen at the Akenside Traders and time spent on the terraces at St James’ Park, she was inspired by the Balti pies she sometimes has when walking to the game.
Wanting to create a pie that really shone out, Ruth has been perfecting her pie since the competition launched in October, ensuring that it had the right blend of spices and was of a high standard to take pride of place on the menus of 143 pubs within the Stonegate estate.
Speaking about winning the competition and her road to victory, Ruth said: “I am delighted to have won the competition and I’m just so over the moon. I entered the competition last year with a Beef Wellington Pie so I wanted to make the judges a pie that really stood out. I love Indian food and do like a pie when I am heading to the match, so I wanted to find a way to combine the two that would make the judges’ mouths water.
“I did have a few other pies that I tried out on the team at the Akenside first to see which they preferred. They sampled a Jerk Chicken Pie and Pizza Pie but the team all voted in favour for the Curry Lover’s Pie so their taste buds are right on the money!
“I can’t believe that my pie will be on the menus when they launch in April. My family were so delighted for me, as were the regulars and Andrea, the manager of the Akenside. I’ve got my certificate on pride of place in the bar and my one of the team at the Akenside bought me a brand new frame to display it in. I’ve already had a few customers put in some sneaky orders for the pie but I’m afraid they’ll have to wait until it comes out!”
Toby Smith, Chief Executive of the Stonegate Pub Company said: “I always enjoy hosting the pie competition to see the innovation, skill and the hard work that our team members demonstrate. Some of the pies delivered incredible flavours and used some really interesting ingredients. More importantly, I’m delighted that we can showcase the talents of our team members to our guests and look forward to enjoying the Curry Lover’s Pie when I am out and about visiting our pubs.”