Handcrafted basics are the winning formula for pie maker
Bake-Off may be off the nation's television screens for another season, but one place where the baking never stops is at The Real Pie Company in Crawley.
The award-winning premium pie maker, which is tucked away in the Manor Royal Business District, produces up to 10,000 bakes a day at its unit in Rutherford Way.
This year has seen the company win a string of food awards, including three at the Great Taste Awards and eight medals at the Melton Mowbray British Pie Awards 2016. They are already looking forward to 2017 after hearing this month they have been made a grand finalist in the Sussex Food and Drink Awards.
Managing director Christine Cossins, explained what made the Real Pie so special.
“It started 16 years ago. The couple who started it were butchers and they had a shop in Cuckfield. What they wanted to do was sell a quality pie. They couldn’t find one that fitted for them, so they decided to make them using their own meat.
“Within a few years the demand for those pies was so great they shut the shop and took over one small unit here.”
The business grew, as did their reputation for ‘crammed to the crust’ pastry creations. When the couple sold the business to Richard Morley four and a half years ago, he appointed their son-in-law Brett Hornby as a commercial operations director.
Christine said: “They reached saturation point and were a victim of their own success. We saw the massive potential here. It’s quite unique. It’s not a supermarket pie; it’s not an everyday pie and it’s handcrafted.
“Whether it’s 10,000 pies or 3,000 pies in one day, it’s all handcrafted.”
Today, with a workforce numbering just 26, including administrators and drivers, they are proud their pies are still handmade to order using the same recipes.
All the ingredients are sourced from the UK with farm to fork traceability. They use one cut of beef, brisket, and it is sourced from a farm in Scotland; chicken from Norfolk and the pork comes from Sussex.
Christine said: “Our meat is 98 per cent lean. You’re guaranteed never to find gristle.”
Production starts overnight when all the vegetables are prepared. The meat arrives in the morning ready to be added to the stock in giant saucepans. When made the pies are baked in ovens big enough for three people in which to stand in.
Christine said: “There are two shifts. We are running all the time. The day before the meat gets cooked and the meat and gravy is mixed together by hand.
“Then, in the morning this is put in the pie and it will be going to the customer for tomorrow morning. It’s a 24 hour operation.
“The pastry is mixed with a foot mixer. People don’t believe how basic we go to provide a handcrafted premium product.
She added: “We know each staff member’s fingerprint and they hand crimp them. We know at the end of the day which pie has been made by which person.”
And it is a winning formula. In August, they scooped three awards in the Great Taste Awards with Steak and Kidney Pie; Steak and Mushroom Pie and Steak and Stilton Pie.
It followed hot on the heels of winning eight awards at the Melton Mowbray British Pie Awards 2016 including one for The Real Pie Company’s newest flavour, Steak and Mature Cheddar.
They hope being made a finalist at the Sussex Food and Drink Awards 2016 will bring equal success.
As well as the meat pies, they have a selection of vegetarian flavours and fruit crumbles. Their Christmas flavour is turkey, ham and cranberry.
For more information and to view the company’s whole range go to www.therealpieco.co.uk