Hospitality Business Magazine

Zoya Sahrawat joins dad Sid as Bakels NZ Supreme Pie Award judge

You may have watched Auckland restaurateur, Sid Sahrawat judging on MasterChef NZ, My Kitchen Rules, dined at his former restaurant, Sidart, or at Cassia, Anise, The French Café or Kol.  But did you know, Zoya, his 13 year-old daughter is also a talented budding foodie, formerly known as the HospoBaby?

With that kind of hospitality lineage, it is hard to imagine Zoya biting into a pie and savouring it, however, she is a huge fan of pies, as is her dad, Sid and they can’t wait to see what is instore when they judge the 26th Bakels NZ Supreme Pie Awards on July 25 as this year’s celebrity chef judges.

Sid says: “We’re both really excited and delighted to be part something we haven’t really done before.  This is Zoya’s first gig doing something so formal. She is really interested in seeing how the judging panel and process works.  And it will be good for us both to see what is inspiring New Zealand chefs and bakers to come up with amazing pies with different flavours, textures and combinations.”

Zoya says: “I’m so excited to be judging the Pie Awards with Dad. I’m going to take this very seriously as I am sure everyone in New Zealand wants us to get it right for them, so they know what pies they have to definitely try this year, and also for the bakers, who will be putting in so much effort to get their creations right.”

Sid and Zoya agree that they’ll be looking for a pie that has the X factor.

Sid says: “I would definitely like to see the best of New Zealand produce used, whether it’s for a vegetarian, meat, or seafood pie. There should be just no boundary, but it’s got to have bags of flavour.  It should be that you’d want to have it again.

“A pie is not a small amount to eat. You commit to having more than two or three bites, and it has to have that kind of layers of complexity.”

He also recommends that bakers smell their pies in the process of taking that first ‘taste test’ bite. “Even the aroma, when you bite into a pie for the first time and you can smell all the flavours while you’re eating it. That is the most important time for any piece of food.”

While Sid and wife, Chand’s restaurant menus are very different in styles to Kiwi bakery food, it seems you can’t live in this country and not love pies. Even Chand, on a winter’s night will suggest a pie for dinner and before long she’ll have a butter chicken one coming out of the oven or another equally satisfying flavour.

“I don’t think I know many people who don’t like a good pie. I love a good pie whether it’s European, Indian, Mexican,” says Sid with fond memories of a Mexican huffer pie filled with beef mince, jalapeno and cream cheese, bought from a local bakery. “It was just so delicious!”

At Anise, the front restaurant in The French Café complex, where the food is a take on modern Asian, Sid has introduced an entrée-sized pie that is proving to be a hot little number with the customers. “It’s a beef rendang pie which has got a little bit of beef short rib, then the Malaysian rendang flavours and a really nice flaky pastry. It’s not a big mouthful, it’s just a snack depending on what your appetite is, but it’s really yummy and people just want like a bucket of those,” he laughs.

That’s the kind of flavour which would work well in the Pie Awards Café Boutique category where cafes and restaurants can show off their innovation skills.

“These days there’s no right or wrong, you could have a pie in a fine dining restaurant where it could be just cooked so well, and I guess this is where this competition is going to be so interesting to see with bakers what their techniques are, they flavour combination, the pastry quality and the recipe. Just the way it eats together. You don’t want a pie that’s too runny, meat too dry; you want a cohesive flavour. It sounds simple but actually to get the balance right is not that simple.” And it seems Sid’s a bit of a puritan when it comes to eating them. “You shouldn’t need any cutlery to eat a pie. It should hold its form in your hand. Using cutlery for a pie or pizza just ruins the fun of eating something so nostalgic.”

NZ Bakels managing director, Brent Kersel says having Sid and Zoya on the judging panel for this year’s Supreme Pie Awards will be a double bonus by bringing together Sid’s wealth of culinary knowledge and Zoya’s youth and her childhood immersion in the kitchen.