We ate all the pies

Editor Fergus Collins helps judge the British Pie Awards with Countryfile presenter Julia Bradbury

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Just got back from judging the British Pie Awards in Melton Mowbray sponsored by Colmans (a dream come true). Julia Bradbury was a fellow judge and she and her sister Gina very kindly put me up in her country abode in Rutland the night before (another dream come true).

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Melton Mowbray in Leicestershire is Britain’s pie capital so we gathered in St Mary’s church with all the local press, food producers, farmers, pie makers and other worthies for a very serious judging competition.

Julia was on pork pies (ha, ha!), I was on savoury hot (everything from steak and kidney to curry). I nearly fainted when I heard there were 266 pies entered in my class. Seeing them laid out on the tables was daunting.

Luckily, there were 9 other judges on savoury hot and we munched our way through pies of all shapes and sizes, judging them on appearance, pastry thickness and taste, amount of gravy, amount of filling, flavour etc.

The rules were very strict, the overall judges stricter still.

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After 5 pies, I was feeling happy. After 20, my tastebuds were feeling a little numbed. After 50, I was beginning to wilt badly. There were some odd flavours, some truly disgusting ones but a few real treats. I went down the aisle to see how Julia was faring just eating pork pies all day – she’d rolled her sleeves up and was giving each pie some very serious deliberation. Personally, I can only manage one pork pie a day (and that’s with a good wind) so I saluted her and went back for another steak and ale.

And it turned out that the winning pies did come from my savoury hot category. Find out more here

Congratulations to all the winners and to the fantastic organisers of this brilliant event. Right, I’m off for a plate of pasta.

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Please invite me again next year – I’ll have room for more pies by then.