Some older press items that are no longer available online:
TimeOut New York Kids (April 15, 2008)
Restaurant review: The Pie Shop
By Amy Sirot
DUB Pies’ second Brooklyn outpost, the Pie Shop is just a block from Prospect Park. Now that spring is here, it’s a boon for family picnics. Like those at the original Columbia Street location, the self-contained meals, a staple in New Zealand and Australia, come with kid-pleasing fillings surrounded by a delectable crust—flaky outside and moist inside. My picky four-year-old gave his “steak mince” (ground beef) pie a suspicious look, turned it over a few times, then dug in with a gusto usually reserved for Halloween candy. The flavorful sausage roll, which resembles an elongated pig-in-a-blanket, was another hit with both of my boys.
I preferred the surprisingly sophisticated and creamy vegetarian-curry pie, with the peppery chicken a close second. For dessert, we split a moist Lamington, another Down Under classic—jam-filled sponge cake covered with chocolate icing and shredded coconut.
211 Prospect Park West at 16th St, Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn
Average pie: $4.50.
L Magazine (Oct 24, 2007) "United Nations of Sandwich"
Saveur (November 1, 2007)
Tastes Like Home
by Sarah Karnasiewicz
The humble pie can cure an astounding array of ills, from hunger to heartbreak to lust. Perhaps it's because pastry crust takes time and care to prepare that eating it feels like an act of both labor and love. Whatever the reason, whether a pie is sweet or savory, mixed berry or mincemeat, few foods are as hearty, both in the way they satisfy you and in the way they seem truly to come from the heart.
No more than edible stuffed envelopes, pies transcend time and national boundaries. In Britain and Wales they're called pasties; in Jamaica, patties; in India, samosas; in Latin America, empanadas. Indeed, the elegant and utilitarian "hand pie" was the original workingman's lunch, a simple preparation designed to survive a day in the mines; but even today pies remain both a source of sustenance and a stage for improvisation, ideal for leftover pot roast, curry, or even Thanksgiving turkey.
In fact, people get so passionate about pies that it is hardly hyperbole to say that a good pie can change a life. Take Gareth Hughes, for example. Hughes, a native of New Zealand, where the meat pie is an unofficial state dish, was living in New York in 2001, when the attacks of September 11 turned the city upside down. After a year of toiling as a disaster assistance manager, Hughes decided that perhaps he could serve his neighbors better by baking. Taking inspiration from his home country's ultimate comfort food, Hughes started Down Under Bakery (DUB), a one-man meat pie operation, out of a Lower East Side kitchen in 2003. He now operates a café in Brooklyn (with plans for more in the works) as well as a delivery and catering service around New York, and thanks to the vocal fans of his mince and cheese and shepherd's pies, more and more New Yorkers are turning up for a warm and flaky serving of Kiwi hospitality. SAVEUR spoke recently with Hughes about his passion for steak and mushrooms, the best drinks to pair with pie, and whether America is about to embark on a meat pie renaissance.
Given all the foods in the world, why did you decide to devote yourself to meat pies?
The meat pie is more central to the food culture in New Zealand and Australia than pizza is in New York. It's surprising, really, that meat pies aren't common in the United States, since historically the biggest consumers of pies have been the British, and England is just a skip and a jump from here. Instead it's the colonies that have brought pies to the Americans. I'm not the only meat pie maker in the States; there's probably about eight or nine of us doing it now.
Also, pies are already suited to the American palate. Steak and cheese pie, for example, is a Philly cheese steak wrapped in pastry instead of bread. It will be interesting to watch what happens in the next few years because the two biggest Australian pie manufacturers just arrived in the States. One of them makes 50,000 pies an hour in Australia. Can you imagine that? And they are going to spend millions on advertising and marketing in the U.S.
Have you been in the U.S. long?
I grew up in Auckland, New Zealand, but moved to New York in late 2000. Before that, I'd spent a few years living and working in Oregon.
Have you always had an interest in baking?
No. If anything, my trade was bartending; I'd worked in bars all my life. But right after I moved to New York and got a green card, the company I'd been working for started laying off employees. I could have moved back to the West Coast with them and kept my job, but I figured, Hell, I have a green card and I'm in New York—I'm going to stay and do my own thing. I was interested in being a writer [laughs], so I tried that for a while, earning no money and burning through what little I'd saved. I also started driving a yellow cab, thinking that would give me stories to write about.
I'd been driving the cab for two weeks when the attacks of September 11 happened, and then I quit. I'd told myself that no matter how bad it was—and it was horrific—I would drive the cab for three months. But September 11 changed everything.
For a year, I worked on the recovery effort as a manager of a disaster assistance center. My job was to manage the counselors who worked with people who had lost their friends and jobs and loved ones. It was intense, and we got dumped on a lot. And though we didn't realize it at the time—at least I didn't—we were going through a lot of emotional stress, too. After a year I had nothing left in me. I went back to New Zealand to recharge. I was looking high and low for an idea that was unique to New Zealand and Australia that I could take back to the States. But I was also exhausted and in need of comfort. I was eating four or five pies every day. And it hit me just like that—that the pies might be the answer to my question.
But you can't just become a baker overnight. How did you get from the concept to the product?
First I approached a few bakers in Auckland whose pies I admired. I told them what I wanted to do and showed them my New York ID so they'd know I wasn't trying to compete with them. They were great. I got a crash course in pie making and came back to New York.
Initially, the hardest part was that I was making everything myself, mixing the pastry in a KitchenAid mixer and rolling the dough by hand. Now we are equipped to pump out a lot of pies. But back then, if I could make three dozen pies, I'd be ecstatic—and that was in an 18-hour day.
What's your favorite pie?
Steak and mushroom. I grew up eating it. In fact, if you really are what you eat, I am a steak and mushroom pie.
Do you eat one everyday?
Not now. I made a decision to stop eating so many because I noticed that my passion for pies was being affected. I always thought there was no limit to the amount of pies I could eat, but when you're making them all day, every day, you hit that limit pretty quickly!
How many varieties of pie do you make now?
We make steak mince and cheese, plain steak mince, shepherd's pie, steak and kidney pie, chicken and vegetable pie, a curry vegetarian pie, and a couple more. But it's a really exciting time because we're just about to expand and bring on another baker, who will help streamline the operation and enable us to expand our flavors. That's the great thing about a pie: it's really just a package—you can put anything in there. I've got 46 recipes developed, but we use only 12 now. We'll be adding one with smoked fish and sweet potato pie and a Thai curry pie soon.
Should the ideal pie be thick inside or runny?
The inside should be runny, but not so wet that the pie can't be eaten in hand. Growing up in New Zealand and Australia you develop the ability to eat a pie without making a mess. It requires some learned skill to keep the gravy inside the pastry shell.
What about the crust?
It absolutely has to be flaky. Right now I think our shells are perfect, but as the shops grow, we are going to work on some other aspects of the appearance. For instance, true "gourmet" pies from Australia and New Zealand are a little bigger than ours.
So there are standard shapes and sizes for different kinds of pies?
Yes, in fact, I bring the pie tins that we use here in from New Zealand. The shape is called the New Zealand oval, and it's the most common shape for pies back there.
What's the best accompaniment for a pie?
A beer, definitely a beer. Pies are perfect for sports watching. In fact, soccer, beer, and pies: they were meant to go together.
Is there one thing you should never do to a pie?
I would say you shouldn't eat a pie cold. A cold meat pie and congealed gravy: ugh!
Do you foresee a future—say, ten years down the line—in which there is a pie shop on every corner in New York City?
I don't see why not. I like to think we're exchanging our culture with America. In fact, I'm applying with the INS to officially become a cultural ambassador, so I can hire Australians and New Zealanders. I could just keep on doing this and pay my bills, but I have much bigger plans than that.
The Down Under Bakery is located at 193 Columbia St., Brooklyn, NY. Pies can also be ordered online at www.dubpies.com.
New York Times Off the Menu (19 December 2007)`
THE PIE SHOP This branch of Gareth Hughes’s Down Under Bakery, aka DUB Pies, on the Columbia Street waterfront in Brooklyn, offers his native New Zealand meat pies and lamingtons, sponge cake dipped in chocolate and coconut: 211 Prospect Park West (16th Street), Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn, (718) 788-2448.
Newsday, (Apr 27, 2005)
THE NEW NEW YORKERS: Kiwi savors a taste of success
A transplant from New Zealand strikes it rich by introducing America to a delicacy from his native land
by Peter Simunovich
Gareth Hughes was visiting his hometown of Auckland, New Zealand, eating his favorite snack - a steak and mushroom pie - when he decided that something he enjoyed so much could be shared with others for a profit.
Hughes approached the owner of a local pie shop and asked to be taught how to make the meat-filled pastries that are widely popular in Australia and New Zealand.
"He told me he wouldn't give me his recipes but would teach me how to assemble a pie, and if I bought him a bottle of bourbon, I could come by the next day," recalled Hughes, now 37.
That was in late 2002. Today, Hughes, of Brooklyn and a single father of a 22-month-old son, has a wholesale meat pie company of his own in New York.
The company has two full time staffers and sells hundreds of 5- inch, oval-shaped, Australian-style meat pies, 5-inch sausage rolls and 2-inch cocktail meat pies each week to bars in Manhattan and Brooklyn. They have become popular treats at the Australian and New Zealand consulates, among other places.
"I was looking for something uniquely Australian or New Zealand," Hughes said of his business.
The meat is cooked, the pastry baked and the pies assembled on site at Chelsea Market in Manhattan. Part-time staff then deliver the pies by bicycle or subway.
Hughes says he and his business partner, Gary Sleppy, a baker in Sacramento, Calif. and two other investors, his mother in Brisbane, Australia, and a friend from Auckland, are ready to introduce their pies to a broader audience.
They plan to have a full production plant in Brooklyn next year and a kitchen in Sacramento by the end of summer. They then hope to expand their business to the rest of the boroughs - Queens, Staten Island and the Bronx - as well as other major cities, such as Chicago, Boston and San Francisco.
"It is perfect bar food or for anywhere," Hughes said. "There is no clean up.
"The best way to eat a pie is out of a paper bag," he added.
Hughes, who previously dabbled in jobs ranging from bartending to driving a taxi, has come a long way since his humble beginnings in the pie business in early November 2003. Due to a lack of funds at that time, he signed a lease with a caterer to share the rent on a 150-square-foot kitchen in lower Manhattan that had a baker's oven.
Hughes' first creation was a steak pie, his signature pie. He now has 32 kinds of pies, including steak and vegetables, steak and kidney, steak and curry, steak and cheese, Thai chicken, chicken and mushrooms, smoked fish and sweet potatoes, shepherd's pie, curry vegetarian, and bacon, egg and cheese. Each pie costs $2.75.
"Gareth's pies add a touch of Australia," said Bob Witynski, the Australian Deputy Consul General in New York, which orders the pies for special functions.
"The pies are always well received at our functions and are gone in seconds," Witynski said.
Nevada Smith, a sports bar on the Lower East Side, orders up to 100 pies a week from Hughes, depending on the number of customers who show up to watch broadcasts of European soccer games.
Kieron Slattery, who immigrated to New York from Dublin, Ireland, nine years ago and has been a bartender at Nevada Smith's for the past three years, not only vouches for the popularity of the meat pies among customers but is also a fan of the pastries, himself.
"Irish pies have more sauce and gravy and need a plate, but Gareth's are perfect for watching games in the bar," said Slattery, whose favorite is the signature meat pie. "You can eat his pies out of your hand and there is no mess."
Gareth Hughes just loves meat pies, and now that he's making them here, so do Americans.
Sydney Daily Telegraph (April 12, 2005)
Aussie meat pies make a hit in the Big Apple
It's a confounding thing but what we Aussies view as the quintessential fast food has never found success in the US, the land that claims to have invented fast food.
But finally the meat pie looks set to replace the apple pie as pie of choice for Americans, and its springboard is the Big Apple.
For just over a year, Gareth Hughes, 37, has been making, marketing, selling and delivering traditional Aussie meat pies across the city's five boroughs.
As well as re-acquainting grateful Aussies, Kiwis and Poms with their favorite footy fare, he's also been winning over the natives.
Mr Hughes, a former New York Nike executive, got the idea when resting in New Zealand after being burnt out from more that an year of counselling victims of the 9/11 disaster.
He liked the pies so much that he determined when he returned to New York he would make and sell them in the toughest market in the world.
Instead of seeking help from the local consul offices, he was able, as a green card holder, to tap into the huge resources of the US Government's Small Business Administration.
"Essentially it taps the resources of retired entrepreneurs who are available whenever you want, for free.
"You can go and talk to them about your ideas and your business plan, and they help refine it."
Initially Mr Hughes operated out of a nightclub that wasn't using its kitchens.
He'd bake through the night, then make deliveries in the morning to a couple of retail outlets and to a growing number of expats who had heard of the pies through word of mouth.
Now the Down Under Bakery has just moved into Chelsea Markets, "by far and away the best showcase and location in Manhattan, in all of New York really," he says.
He also caters for major events such as Australia Day and New Zealand Day parties, and provides bars with pies when huge numbers of Poms congregate to watch major soccer games on cable TV.
The key to his success so far, he says, has been to his unconventional marketing and the product. The pastry, he says, is crucial. Americans seem to only eat sweet pastry, and he imports his margerine from New Zealand to give it a distinctive flavour.
"It's the real pastry, you couldn't get it any more authentic. It's the reason why the pies succeed so well. It's the pastry that proves the authenticity to the Australians and the Kiwis."
- Jenny Dillon, syndicated across News Corp. papers in Australia
Cuisine Magazine (September 2004) Letters to the Editor
I wanted to say thank you to Cuisine for the wonderful article on Gareth Hughes from Down Under Pies in New York. I was stuck for a birthday gift idea for a an Australian friend who lives in Connecticut but who calls New Zealand home. I knew his wife had organised a trip to the Big Apple staying a couple of nights at a hotel in Manhattan, so I contacted Gareth and asked him if it would be possible to get a delivery of his down-under pies to the hotel. Not only did he organise the delivery, he did so on Sunday just before they checked out and the pies were frozen in a lovely cooler bag all ready for their trip back to Connecticut.
We are very popular. If there is one thing we all miss when we live and travel overseas, it's the comfort food of home.
Thanks to Gareth it was a breeze to organise and we wouldn't have thought of it without your article. Now if you could find a butcher who makes good old-fashioned pork sausages and who will deliver to Connecticut, we will have the next birthday sorted.
Sarah Ferguson (via email).