Vanilla Slice Triumph

Published on 24 August 2017

Judges at the forthcoming Official Great Aussie Pie Competition in Sydney will enjoy a tempting taste of Central Victoria, thanks to the efforts of Loddon Shire’s Bridgewater Bakery.

The team’s plans to contest the event follow hard on the heels of its participation in the 2017 Great Australian Vanilla Slice Triumph, held in Mildura in mid-August.

This latter competition – staged in the city for the first time after five years at Merbein – saw bakers from around the state gather to showcase their skills, with the public entertained by live music, children’s activities, cooking demonstrations with celebrity chef Stefano de Pieri and a Vanilla Slice Market Hall.

Bridgewater Bakery submitted entries in two of the three available competition categories.

There were three sections – Professional, Innovative and Apprentice – with prizes comprising trophies, recipe books and vouchers for food supplies and equipment, including generous donations from Laucke Flour Mills in Bridgewater.

Bakery owner Pat O’Toole said this was the second time the business had entered the event.

“The first was four years ago in Merbein, when we first opened for business,” Mr O’Toole said.

“We used Laucke flour and dairy supplies from Parmalat in Bendigo and entered two categories – Professional and Apprentice.

“Two of our apprentices submitted their slices – Sharna and Nolan Meek – while I went up with one of our main bakers, Cameron Frank, a partner in our Bendigo store.”

There were 54 entries in the Professional section, with Hudak’s Bakery from Mildura taking first place.

The event began in the 1990s, after a visit by then Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett to the Ouyen bakery.

At its height, the competition attracted 3000 people each year, but after 18 years at Ouyen it moved to Merbein in 2011.

The 28th annual Great Aussie Pie Competition will be held at Fine Food Australia, in Sydney’s Darling Harbour, from 11-14 September.

Bakers and pie makers from across the country converge alternately on Sydney and Melbourne each September to vie for the most sought-after award in their industry.

The competition is judged over four days by a team of 16 judges, appraising 10 categories of pies and – since 2014 – sausage rolls.

“We’ve been to the pie competition three times so far, but will probably take four or five pies of different varieties,” Mr O’Toole said.

“We don’t do special pies for the comps – whatever the customers get is what the judges see.”