Aussie Meat Pies: The Next US Trend?

by on January 23, 2012 · 10 comments

Homschek and Fong in the NY location of Pie Face

Happy national pie day! With the first NY outpost of Pie Face opening in midtown NYC today, we’ve decided to look at the evolution of this humble savory pie.

Meat pies have come a long way since the gravy-laden mystery meat concoction we ate with tomato sauce at the footy, at the school tuck shop or sometimes reheated from the freezer at home. In recent years, fancier pies than the one we ate as kids – with fusion flavors such as tandoori chicken, Thai chicken curry and steak and Guinness have enjoyed a resurgence among Aussie gourmands. And now, with the opening of Aussie gourmet chain Pie Face’s first North American outpost in New York City, they might just take USA taste buds by storm as well.

Pie Face began in 2003, when American-born Wayne Homschek and Betty Fong (the duo behind the Aussie fashion label Paablo Nevada) were inspired by pies they commissioned to serve at one of their fashion shows. To open the chain, they teamed up with Francois Cointrel, a french pastry chef who moved to Australia and opened his own gourmet pie shop in Rose Bay, Sydney. The name “Pie Face” was born when Homeschek and Fong had the idea of drawing faces on their pies with gravy to differentiate the fillings, spurring the growth of a chain that boasts over 70 locations throughout Australia and now, their first international location.

Pie Face will offer savory and sweet pies as well as a complete range of Aussie Style Coffee

But gourmet pies in New York City are nothing new, with a number of bakeries opened by travel-hungry and enterprising antipodean bakers. It all started out with DUB (Down Under Bakery) pies in Brooklyn back in 2003, opened by Kiwi Gareth Hughes. Despite its New Zealand origins, DUB officially serves what they call Australian/New Zealand-style gourmet meat pies in flavours such as Thai chicken curry, steak and cheese as well as steak and mushroom, becoming a popular and convenient bar snack with hungry drinkers in Brooklyn. Tuck Shop followed a few years later on the Lower East Side, swiftly expanding to the East Village and Chelsea. In a unique twist of culinary fusion, both pie purveyors offer uniquely American flavours:  BBQ pork (with coleslaw) and a Mac ‘n’ Cheese Pie at Tuck Shop, while DUB Pies offer what was originally a superbowl special flavor, Chili Cheese.

Luckily, other cities are not without their shortage of traditional Aussie Pies. The Australian Pie Company opened in Seattle in 1998, followed by The Australian Bakery Cafe in Marietta and Atlanta, GA. More recently, Boston’s KO Catering and Pies and Portland’s Pacific Pie Co. have rounded up the helm, both offering more American friendly flavours with the latter boasting the use of local sustainable and seasonal products.

So the question remains: with the number of places to gather your meat pies increasing, will the US embrace our humble little pastry?

Pie Face opens today, January 22 at 1691 Broadway (between 53rd and 54th) New York, NY. As well as offering savoury and sweet pies with or without mashed potatoes and peas, they will offer a signature Aussie coffee menu with Flat Whites and Long Blacks. They will also be open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

DUB Pies are located at 211 Prospect Park West (at 16th Street) Brooklyn, NY. They deliver pies free to most of NYC and ship frozen pies nationwide.

Do you have something to add to the pieversation? Let us know in the comments below.