Victoria’s Country Cob Bakery just won gold at the Baking Association of Australia’s annual awards. The bakery’s fish amok pie – a pastry-encased version of the Cambodian fish curry thought to date back to the Khmer empire – took home the champion award for Australia’s Best Pie 2023 on Saturday June 3 after three days of tough competition.
Baking Association executive officer Tony Smith admits he was a bit surprised when a fish pie won the title. “Everyone always expects a meat pie to win,” he tells Broadsheet. “But everyone said [the fish amok pies] were very good.”
The bakery, run by brothers Chan and Ryan Khun since 2016, has taken out the honour a total of four times, winning for its pepper beef pie in 2020, its caramelised pork and pepper pie in 2019, and its seafood-satay pie in 2018. The champion bakery also won four 2023 class awards for: flavoured beef pie, mushroom pie, traditional pastie and seafood pie.
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The competition is conducted knockout-style: over three days 10 judges try each submission, eliminating inferior pies and pasties until they’re left with the final winner in each category. (The 2023 award for best pastie went to New South Wales bakery Samuel Gee Pies and Pastries).
But it’s not over yet. If the baking brothers want to keep the title, they’ll also have to keep up the quality. In an attempt to prevent entrants from submitting “show pies” – pies that are baked specifically for competition, and therefore differ from what customers will find in stores – the association will secretly send two of the judges to each of Country Cobb’s Victorian bakeries some time over the next four months. Their mission is to check whether the pie sold in stores is the same as the one they tasted during competition. “It keeps it fair,” Smith says.