A WENDOUREE pie maker is celebrating a success five years in the making, taking out a major award at the Great Australian Pie Competition.
J&M Catering, best known as Shop 29 Pie Shop in Wendouree, was named as Australia's best vegetarian or vegan pie for its stunning veggie and mango curry pie.
The family-run business is owned by chef Mark Batchelor, and with the pandemic having caused complete shutdowns of its catering arm, the business has moved to pie making full time.
"Pies used to be 20 per cent of our business, now it's 100 per cent," Mr Batchelor said.
He said having previous worked as a chef, he came up with the idea to try and see how the mango-infused pie would work.
"About 15 years ago I won a Masterfoods, gourmet category sandwich and I won it with a mango and smoked chicken sandwich, so I've always worked well with mango and fruit in general," he said.
"I knew we had it pretty right, we made our own curry, our own mango chutney, it was all done by us. We tried it, liked it, made it, presented it and were won with it."
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Mr Batchelor said competitions like the Great Australian Pie Competition were a great way for any business to try and create new things and he encouraged any Ballarat bakery to enter because "you never knew what could happen".
"One of the things when you win an award like this, you're asked to keep it in stock for at least three months afterwards," he said.
"They have sold really well. We had that at Mushroom Farm and they sold out in half-an-hour."
It was a successful competition for the Wendouree family business which overall took out six gold medals, eight silver and a bronze.
The bronze was extra special as it was entered by Mr Batchelor's daughter for an apple pie, which was her first ever entry in the competition.
"We've been trying for five years to get a win, once you reach the pinnacle, now people are trying to knock you off," Mr Batchelor said.
"We're going to concentrate on doing everything we can to win other categories."