GOTAFE Baking trainers, Stephen Pinnuck and Kim Banfield are busy in Sydney this week judging “The Great Aussie Pie” competition. It is the biggest pie competition in Australia.
Stephen and Kim have been very fortunate to have been given the opportunity to judge the competition for the past 15 years. The competition runs for four days with a judging panel of 12 people. They have a number of entries with each judge potentially eating 60 pies a day, so roughly judging around 240 pies for the whole competition.
“Pies get cut into quarters for us to taste. We nibble on the meat, pastry, aroma, the stability and all of those things that go towards it. And then we move onto the next pie. We nibble because there is no way we could eat a full quarter of 60 pies in a day”. Said Stephen.
“We first mark the pies cold. In this section we don’t eat the pies, we mark for symmetry, colour, pastry thickness, amount of filling, and if it is the gourmet section what sort of fillings have they tried. Whether it’s creative or not. When hot, we taste the pies and mark on stability, aroma, meat and fillings that they have used.”
Stephen’s idea of a good pie “one that is well constructed, it’s got good flavour but not over powering, the meat doesn’t run out everywhere, the pastry isn’t too thick. Just a good, consistent, stable pie.”
The competition is a great way for the Bakeries and the industry to get some more exposure. People travel far and wide to try the “Greatest Aussie Pie”.
“I think it’s good for bakeries. The bakeries that have entered all get feedback on their entries. If they don’t go as well as what they hoped they can improve with the suggestions on their feedback. People who act upon their feedback are the ones that eventually take out the big prizes”.
“With baking, you have to keep learning, by training or practicing,” said Luke. “It’s important to take pride and have passion in what you do. It’s also important to love what you do.”
His advice is sound advice, as he was awarded GOTAFE’s Baking Apprentice of the Year in his last year of study in 2010 and has international experience at a renown Patisserie School in France. Luke attributes his success to his training and trainers at GOTAFE.
“My GOTAFE Baking Trainers were Kim, Steve and Maria, they were really good to me and also inspired me further to become a baker”.
Initially, Luke started his baking career at High School, working part time at Gaffney’s Bakery in Yea. He enjoyed it so much that he started working full time, beginning his apprenticeship at GOTAFE.
Once finishing his apprenticeship at GOTAFE he travelled overseas to France to train for two months at Ecole Nationale Superieure De Patisserie (ENSP). Luke took the view that France is well known for their pastries so why not learn from the best, so after completing his training he moved to Paris, living and working there for six months.
“I didn’t find it too hard to get a job. I was lucky because my boss spoke a bit of English which made it easier if I had any questions.”
Luke is now back in Australia, working at Le Petit Gateaux, Melbourne a patisserie specialising in creative cakes and tarts.
Luke continues to build his career and said he constantly strives for innovation. “Trying to be a bit different from everybody else is the biggest challenge.
“I am always trying to come up with my own ideas and not copying anybody else’s.”