If you are what you eat, I'm most certainly a Steak & Mushroom pie.
If you're not from the lands down under it might be difficult to fully comprehend the importance of the humble savory/meat pie to New Zealand and Australian food culture. To say that a pie is as important a staple down under as pizza, hot dogs and hamburgers are (collectively) to the American food landscape is not at all hyperbole.
Like most Kiwis, I grew up eating meat pies whenever the opportunity presented itself. We've always been intensely passionate about this wonderfully tasty, phenomenally convenient, protein packed, savory snack. While I enjoy a good Breakfast pie (bacon, egg and cheese, for instance) in my estimation any meat pie is good for any meal – including breakfast!
When the time came in my life to step away from the security of a corporate pay-check and have a crack at self-employment I paid heed to those who advised that I should I find something I was passionate about to base the business on. It was on a trip back to New Zealand to recuperate from what New Yorkers experienced in September, 2001 that I found my inspiration. In the middle of chowing down on perhaps my 5th pie of the day (making up for lost time!) – it hit me like a lightning bolt. Pies. The ultimate comfort food.
New York needs pies. Dammit, the USA needs pies! Every other civilized culture in the world has some sort of meat pie culture – why doesn't the USA? And so the DUB Pies mission was born. Down Under Bakery pies. Perfect.
From there it was just a matter of learning how to make them. I knew what great savory pies should be – I just needed to learn the process, pick up the baking/cooking skills, build a plan and set my mind to it. I then did informal crash courses with some of the best pie makers I could find in New Zealand, and in late 2003 we sold our first pies in NYC. There's been a series of ups and downs since then – the recession being perhaps the biggest hurdle – but we're hopefully here to stay, and with the success of our Brooklyn brick and mortar café, we're gaining traction.
As the “tide” that is the US pie market gradually comes in we see “all [pie] boats are rising” and we believe the time is perfect to take our mission to the streets and spread the love to all 5 boroughs of NYC.
So, what makes the perfect down under style pie? Put simply, it's not simple. It really is about the gestalt of the pie. But some things I know to be true: pastry shouldn't be fussy. Attempts to be clever by adding fancy herbs and spices should be kept to a minimum. Less is often more with a good pie pastry. It needs to be delicate and yet robust enough to remain intact while the pie is eaten one-handed, even on the run. To really be a down under style pie, by definition it must be easily edible while the eating is not actually the principal behavior one is engaged in. For instance, pies are great food while driving or standing at the rugby supporting your team.
The filling must be just the right balance of vegetables and/or meat; whether the meat is chunky or ground is a personal preference which is why you find both steak and ground mince options pretty much everywhere in NZ and Australia. And the gravy must be flowing but not too thick. It must allow the meat to be suspended in it and yet it shouldn't be too runny or you're going to end up wearing it!
I take great pride in finding that ideal balance for DUB Pies.