It’s not often I get a gig to go to. Even when I do it tends to fall through, like the unfortunate incident over the cancelled BBC Documentary. There are numerous events in the pie calendar that simply cannot be missed however and this year’s PIE FEST in Melton Mowbray is definitely one of them.
It’s quite telling that even in Wigan, the local council have never ever attempted anything so ambitious. Of course, we have the annual World Pie Eating Championships but a fine foodie weekend in Melton Mowbray offers up a whole host of cultural pie related entertainment.
At this year’s Pie Fest event, which takes place on 29th and 30th July, visitors will get the chance to enjoy all things pie-related including sampling, buying, eating and even learning how to make their own pies.
A number of the UK’s awarding-winning pie makers will be at the event selling their pies including past Supreme Champions of the British Pie Awards and many featured in the Life of Pies book such as Grasmere Farm, Dickinson & Morris and Hambleton Bakery .
PieFest will also include talks, tastings, demonstrations, workshops on how to make the perfect pie and a guest appearance from Leicestershire-based Frances Quinn, winner of the Great British Bake Off in 2013.
There will also be a Pie Kitchen where visitors can eat hot pies – baked to perfection with mash, vegetables and a variety of accompaniments. There will also be cheese, beer, cakes, wine, chutneys, cider and more, plus entertainment.
The Pie Theatre programme includes talks on How to Rate a Pie, a demonstration of hand raising a Melton Mowbray Pork Pie, a Pie Panel that will discuss your pie and pastry woes and queries.
Not only that, I will also be there on the Sunday at 11.30am giving a talk and doing a book reading about my love of all things pie. As with my book, it’s being marketed as “an idiot’s guide to pie-eating”. Now I hasten to add, I’m not an idiot, well not a complete idiot anyway, and nor would I proclaim to be an expert on what makes a good pie. They are my own words, so I can’t complain, though “Pie Eating for Dummies” would perhaps sound better.
I’ve been writing about football and pies (because the two generally go hand in hand) for close on 30 years. In my book, Life of Pies, I spent two years travelling the country sampling pies by region, in search of perfection. It became an addiction, a holy quest for PIE-FECTION and of course you can’t quite be wired up right to undertake such a crusade.
The output was a book of nearly 400 illustrated pages containing 314 pies and a real labour of love. Written in a humorous travelogue diary style, it is not intended to be taken over-seriously but given every pie is reviewed, marked, categorised and listed in a full index at the back, well you can quickly conclude that pies are serious business. I am sure the light hearted nature will come across on the day and if you are going to be there, please say hello.
But pies are big business, as the official PieFest release states:
“Pies are a staple of traditional British cuisine and we eat over £1 billion worth of pies per year.”
By my reckoning that’s just over £15 per head. Now, obviously greedy pie fans like myself undoubtedly spend considerably more to drag the average up but that is still quite impressive to think that every man, woman and child consumes the equivalent of £15 of pies every year. I’m sure there will be lots more fascinating facts and insight available on the days of the event.
Admission is £4 on the door or £3 for tickets bought in advance, children under 16s free. Tickets are available online below or from Melton Theatre Booking Office or in person from Visit Leicester Shop Gallowtree Gate, Leicester or Ye Olde Pork Pie Shoppe, 10 Nottingham Street, Melton Mowbray.
I will also be selling signed, personalised copies of Life of Pies on the day at a discounted price. If you can’t make it, and want to read more about Pies or want a great gift for the pie lover in your life, you can buy a copy from the Life of Pies shop right here: https://www.lifeofpies.co.uk/buy/shop/
You can learn more about PieFest here