Pie-makers face off for top title
Almost 1,000 pies of every stripe and filling are being considered for a top national food title.
More than 100 judges have been crunching the crusts of everything from the popular hot steak and ale to the traditional pork pie.
Competition between entrants is "almost cut-throat," according to organisers - such is the desire to win.
The annual British Pie Awards pits professional producers large and small against each other across 20 classes, from Speciality Pie to the best Football Pie - a category dedicated solely to those served up at grounds around the country.
Judging has been under way all day in the home town of the pork pie, Melton Mowbray in Leicestershire, in St Mary's Church. Among the judges considering filling, texture, taste, the look and feel of the pies were food critic Charles Campion, television chef Rachel Green and cricketing commentator Jonathan Agnew.
The hotly-contested awards are organised by the Melton Mowbray Pork Pie Association and are now in their fifth year. They were created off the back of the area's victory in gaining European recognition for the Melton Mowbray pork pie moniker.
Matthew O'Callaghan, pie association chairman, said: "Pies are very popular and the awards get something like 50 million hits a year. One of our winners has pies in Fortnum & Mason in Piccadilly, so a title is highly sought after."
He said the "passion" among competitors was always fierce. "It is almost cut-throat, particularly the Melton Mowbray pork pie category," he added. "It's the passion, but that's what we want - they are almost prepared to go to war over their pies."
Judging criteria are strict, and tarts, flans and lattice-topped pies do not feature as they fail the classification of what makes a pie - which is a filling, hot or cold, completely contained by pastry. As Mr O'Callaghan added: "We're not into tarts in Melton Mowbray".
The champion pie and category winners will be announced at an award ceremony on Thursday.