If there’s one thing Brits do well, it’s a good pie. From family classics like steak and kidney or chicken and mushroom through to the absolute backbone of the picnic spread, the pork pie, we’ve got the whole stuff-in-pastry vibe down to a deliciously fine art.
But while tradition dictates that the innards should ideally involve lots of braised beef or tender chicken – or, if not, at least some potato and cheese – these days it seems rules are there to be broken…
Which is why a sweet potato, butternut squash and spinach pie has scooped the ‘Supreme Champion’ accolade at this year’s British Pie Awards in Melton Mowbray, Lancashire, marking the first time in the event’s 11-year history that a vegan pie has taken the top prize.
Beating 886 other entries, the pie comes from Jon Thorner, a butcher based in Shepton Mallet, Somerset, who insists vegans and carnivores alike would enjoy the pie.
Pies being judged at the British Pie Awards. Credit: PA
Matthew O’Callaghan, chairman of the British Pie Awards, also said: “This year’s Supreme Champion was outstanding and well deserving of the accolade.
“From its very appearance on the judging tray, you knew it was going to do well and it didn’t disappoint when it was opened and tasted.”
He added: “This pie isn’t just for vegans, it’s a pie for everybody. With this award we can truly say that veganism is now entering the mainstream of British food.”
Head judge Colin Woodgear also said: “There are a number of challenges to making a good vegan pie and this has cracked it.
“The pastry was exceptional with a crispness that complimented the filling.”
But not everyone’s happy with the result, clearly unable to tear themselves away from the meat-centric school of thought our pie industry has been based on for centuries.
Michelin-starred chef Richard Corrigan has condemned the ‘pie in the sky’ competition, saying it’s been taken over by ‘millennials’.
Chef Richard Corrigan ain’t happy. Credit: PA
Speaking to the Telegraph, he said: “Please, please I’m going to cry.
“Pies are supposed to be filled with the most delicious morsels of steak and liver and kidney, with the jelly and little pieces of fat in the middle delicately dripping onto your tongue.
“A vegan pie? Give me a break.
“The oldest culinary art form left in the world and the vegans have taken it away. It’s a disgrace.
“The millennials have taken over. It’s not a pie competition. It’s a pie in the sky competition.”
I feel like crying over a butternut squash pie winning a competition is a bit excessive, but y’know.
This year’s British Pie Awards. Credit: PA
Plus, Thorner admits that while he’s proud of his pie and is ‘thrilled’ about his win, he also loves his meat just as much as the next person.
“I love meat and I also really love this pie,” the butcher told the i.
“I think a seasoned carnivore would enjoy eating this pie – it is that good,” he added.
If you really can’t stomach the thought of a meat-free pie, you’re in luck as Thorner also has lots of other award-winning treats on offer, including a pulled brisket and horseradish pie or a creamy steak and peppercorn number.