The 2022 British Pie Awards have concluded for another year with a number of Greater Manchester’s best pie makers dominating the prizes.
It’s no secret that we have some seriously good pie offerings up here in the North, with the range of fillings, flavours and varieties being endless.
And this range shone through at the British Pie Awards this year, with a number of local pie makers from the region coming home with an abundance of awards.
This year’s award ceremony saw a record-breaking 976 entries from 179 pie makers from across the country, with 151 judges being tasked with the enviable task of tasting and ranking each pie into gold, silver and bronze awards.
There were twenty-three different classes of hot and cold savoury and dessert pies and pasties for the judges to consider in the contest, which returned to its traditional March timing after the pandemic saw 2021’s event moved to September.
Here are the pie makers who did Greater Manchester proud at the British Pie Awards this year…
Ate Days A Week
Award-winning pie butty specialists Ate Days A Week in Stockport won several awards for a variety of their pie offerings, including their Lamb Pie of the Tiger pie, which scooped gold.
The restaurant’s new beef madras pie Madrassive Attack, and their Ox Cheek Pie of the Tiger were both awarded silver, while the Salt & Pepper Chicken Pie landed bronze.
The head-chef and owner of Ate Days A Week Andy James recently confirmed that he will be permanently moving his pies from Stockport to the city centre in a venue ‘close to Albert Square’ later this year.
Bolton-based H.M Pasties was also recognised at the awards, with their Cheese & Onion Pie winning silver and their Traditional West Country Style Pasty and Creamy Leek & Mushroom Pie both scooping the bronze awards.
And H.M Pasties isn’t known just for its pie offering; its owner Lee only employs ex-offenders out of the belief that giving people the chance to hold down a job is ‘vital’ to preventing re-offending.
The job gives his employees a steady income, a regular routine and a motive to cook at home and gain back their independence.
All the ingredients are sourced exclusively from local prison farms and gardens.
H.M Pasties, Norris Street, Bolton, BL3 6HQ.
Patel’s Pies was born from a collaboration between the fantastic Vaso Kitchen and Stockport’s Bernie’s Grocery Store, and has become quickly known and loved for its selection of Indian inspired pies.
And its popularity shone through at the British Pie Awards, with them coming home with two silvers thanks to their Aloo Matar and Chickpea & Paneer pies.
Patel’s Pies can be found at the newly renovated Band on the Wall, Bernies Grocery Store in Heaton Moor and Altrincham and A Taste of Honey in Didsbury.
Fraser’s Butchers in Bolton had a hugely successful night at the British Pie Awards, with them winning three awards for their classic pie offerings.
Their Pork Pie and Huntsman Pie (which is made up of pork, turkey and stuffing) were both awarded with silver, while their famous Meat & Potato Pie was commended with bronze.
Fraser’s Butchers, 272 Rishton Lane, Great Lever, Bolton, BL3 2EH.
The Italian restaurant serving up incredible seafood specials and deep-fried pasta
‘Wine is not necessary for flavour if your ingredients are good.’
An Italian restaurant in Worsley has been keeping customers hooked for more of its authentic fish and seafood dishes.
Vesuvio, on Simpson Road in Boothstown, is a hidden gem amongst an ordinary shopping parade. Set back off the main road and nestled in with a bookies, a corner shop, a Chinese takeaway and an Indian restaurant, you could easily miss this little slice of Neapolitan heaven.
Childhood friends, co-owners and chefs Nico Vanacore and Guiseppe Lombardo, opened their Italian restaurant almost 10 years ago as it quickly erupted and became popular among locals ever since.
“We are very big on fish,” chef Nico Vanacore says, as the menu shows a selection of seafood dishes including, swordfish, cuttlefish spaghetti, mussels and octopus mayonnaise – amongst other oceanic delights.
Born in Naples, the pair followed in the footsteps of both of their dads, who were also chefs, and started their culinary journey working in Nico’s uncle’s restaurant back home. The friends have been cooking together since they were 10 years old. Fun fact: they even went to school with Gino Di Campo.
On how they keep their customers hooked , Giuseppe says: “We change the specials all the time. It’s a residential area so we have a lot of regulars who come on a weekly basis.
“If you come two weeks in a row, probably you’ll find mussels or scallops but done in a different way each time.”
Guiseppe came to Manchester in 1994 and began working at Tiggi’s in Preston before cooking at San Carlo’s in Manchester city centre. He and Nico later launched their very own restaurant Vesuvio to be closer to their homes in Worsley, with the idea that they would be able to spend more time with their families, and do the school runs as they’re closed in the mornings.
The duo are hands-on and get stuck in with the day-to-day running of things, taking it in turns cheffing in the kitchen at the rear, and running the ‘front of house’. The only time they get a proper rest is on a Monday but they love what they do, so they don’t seem to mind – although they joke that their wives sometimes complain that they are married to the restaurant.
Giuseppe explains they use fish stock for the base of many dishes but never add wine, saying: “Wine is for drinking, not cooking. Catering school taught us that if the fish is good and fresh you eat it the way it is, without embellishment. Wine is not necessary for flavour if your ingredients are good.”
Standing out amongst the dishes, much like the great Mount Vesuvius, is their famous, Mixed Vesuvio — a traditional meal of Naples. This is a hot pan of fish and seafood in a broth, topped with a pizza base for a lid, which absorbs all the flavours of the sea — great for tearing and sharing. This fragrant steamy dish makes an excellent feature for friends and families to enjoy whilst also sampling some more of Naples’ authentic cuisine.
Also on the menu is Vesuvio’s frittelle which is an indulgent fritter of pasta with pecorino cheese sauce, roasted ham and peas battered and deep fried until crisp. On the streets of Naples, you will find these in a cone along with deep fried courgette flowers, hunks of fish and calamari.
As well as rolled swordfish fillets stuffed with iron-rich Italian broccoli leaves (cime di rapa), scamorza (smoked mozzarella), anchovies and juicy tangy tomatoes. Unlike other more delicate fish dishes, this one socks you with a LaMotta-worthy flavour punch. And for those who fancy some meat, there’s the tender melting beef cheek reclining on a rich stock-based sauce.
As the drink is as important to Italian’s as their food is, this restaurant also boasts a selection of Neapolitan wines, and you can finish off your Mediterranean visit with some deep fried ravioli filled with chocolate and a glass of grappa to ‘blow the doors off’.
Manchester restaurant is hiring a ‘cheese and wine expert’ for £24k a year
Great news for cheese and wine lovers looking for a new role!
A Manchester restaurant is recruiting an ‘expert’ in cheeses for £24k a year.
If you consider yourself a connoisseur of cheese and wines, this job could be the one for you.
Master Chef 2015 winner, Simon Wood, is looking for someone to work at his city centre restaurant Wood, in its sophisticated cheese and wine room called Homage.
The job advertisement is for a host but applicants must know their stuff when it comes to cheese and wines. They are on the lookout for a full-time staff member to work four days a week at the city centre restaurant.
The vacancy reads: “This is an exciting and unique opportunity for an individual who has a good knowledge for wine and a love of cheese.”
Other requirements for the prospective candidates for the position include a high level of customer service and attention to detail, experience and knowledge of wine service and a genuine passion and enthusiasm for hospitality at its best.
Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) knowledge is preferred but not essential. The salary for the vacancy is from £24,000 a year (dependant on experience), plus service charge.
For those who wish to apply, you can email your CV and covering letter to Simon@woodmanchester.com
The hidden gem serving up Hong Kong’s top rated pork chop curry in Eccles
Stick Popchop on your list of Manchester food to try!
Chinese takeaway Popchop, in Eccles, serves up a pork curry which has been ranked one of the top ten pork chop rice dishes by Time Out magazine Hong Kong.
From the outside this low-key takeaway, located on Liverpool Road, looks almost indistinguishable from any other. Even the inside is simple and straight to the point, with just a couple of small seating arrangements for the odd person who needs somewhere convenient to quickly demolish their feast.
Owner Samuel serves up the Hong Kong pork chop curry — a 40-year-old family recipe — which made it to the top ten best pork chop dishes in Hong Kong by Time Out magazine.
His dad runs the Sun King Yuen curry restaurant in Hong Kong which is famous for its pork chops, and it’s good news for Eccles, as he passed his wisdom on to his son.
Samuel keeps framed pictures of his dad around Popchop, and in them, he is busy cooking over his wok. It is from him that Samuel learned the techniques to create the top-rated curry sauce and crispy breadcrumbed pork chops that go with it.
Samuel and his wife moved to Eccles two years ago and opened up Popchop in July 2022. Since opening, locals have been queuing down the street with meals reportedly selling out fast — it’s no surprise when you learn the history behind the food and the love that goes into it.
Of the family classic, Time Out said: “This classic curry house in Wan Chai is famed for its pork chops, and is one of the few tourist attractions in the district that locals still love.”
Sharing a little of the secret to how it is made, Samuel said: “The pork is first left to marinate for four hours in a homemade spice mix before being breaded and deep-fried.
“The base paste for the curry is what makes the difference,” he added.
It’s all made using the exact same methods and techniques as his relatives at their restaurant Sun King Yeun in Hong Kong, and once cooked, is served with soft potatoes on a bed of white rice.
FYI: for those that don’t fancy pork, there’s also a chicken version of this dish.
Popchop’s menu is simple but effective. It’s the kind of place that does just a few things but does them really well – an excellent addition to Eccles.
Popchop is open 5-9pm Wednesday to Sunday.