WHO would have thought New Zealanders became so homesick for the tastes of home — and who would have thought they were so good at baking pies?
As a Kiwi himself, Peter Brae knew about missing the orange and choc chip ice-cream — Australian ice-cream is "a poor imitation" — the K Bars, manuka honey, fejoa jam, minced paua and kina (abalone and sea urchin), kumera chips, grass-fed beef and the fabulous dairy products.
When he opened his shop, New Zealand Snack Foods on the Princes Highway at Banksia about four years ago, he focused on the tastes of his countrymen and women.
Having checked out the census he knew where they all lived.
There were the "Kiwi brain-drain" people at Mosman; 100 or so women at Rose Bay who had obviously married well; 600 females at Newtown; 600 males at Darlinghurst, and so on . . . and his shop was only a short drive along the freeway.
Then Mr Brae found he longed for the pies ("Australian pies are not as good," he says).
After farming out the pie baking to several chefs, he realised the only way he could reproduce the real taste of home he was looking for was to start baking himself.
He got hold of some of that grass-fed meat, some tasty cooking cheese and a shipment of smoked fish and he was away.
He thought his pies were pretty good and his customers agreed with him, but the real test was a pie baking competition.
The fact that it was The Great Aussie Pie Competition and his pies were classic Kiwi pies didn't strike him as odd.
The blindfolded tasters at the Darling Harbour event a few weeks back were impressed enough to give him a bronze medal for each of his three entries: mince and cheese, steak and cheese and smoked fish.
Mr Brae intends to add a smoked mussel pie to his repertoire which he is sure will win gold at the next competition.
As for the difference between Aussie and Kiwi pies: "Ours has meat in it and you don't have to eat it through a straw; and you don't have to hide the taste with tomato sauce."
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