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For the love of pie and one woman’s passion

Michelle Brotohusodo

If you grew up in Australia, chances are you grew up eating meat pies. From party pies at primary school, to pies at the footy and gourmet pies at bakeries—they are a staple of Australian cuisine. But in some other countries, meat pies are far from the norm.

When my Canadian cousin and her friend came to visit a few years ago, my mother and I took them to the Blue Mountains, where for lunch we suggested that they have a meat pie. My cousin’s friend seemed bemused by the concept of a savoury pie, and you should have seen her face when I took the lid off mine to put tomato sauce inside.

While I don’t think my cousin’s friend was convinced about the joys of a meat pie, others have fallen in love at first bite. One such person is Sarah Walker. Originally from New England in the United States (followed by Texas and Philadelphia), Sarah had her first meat pie after moving to Australia when her husband dragged her to the local shops for a snack.

Having only tried chicken pot pies previously (and hating them), she was initially reluctant to try an Aussie meat pie. But her reluctance quickly changed to enthusiasm after her first bite and a mission to eat as many pies from as many places as possible. Sarah’s passion for eating pies soon turned into a passion for baking them, and a mission to create the perfect meat pie.


Sarah’s quest has resulted in many different recipes, which she has now compiled into a book so she can share them with others. The book features a combination of Australian pie recipes as well as classic American and other international recipes that have been turned into pie form. But to publish her book, Sarah needs the support of fellow pie-enthusiasts. She’s started a project on the crowd-funding site Kickstarter, and needs $12,500 for her goal to be realised.

For those of you unfamiliar with Kickstarter, project-backers ‘pledge’ money to projects they are interested in. In addition to helping someone’s idea becoming a reality, backers are also rewarded based on the amount they pledge. In Sarah’s case, rewards include a thank you, a sticker, a copy of the book or even a pie party.

As someone who loves food, I like talking to other people about it so I took the opportunity to ask Sarah a few questions about her passion for pie.

What’s your favourite kind of pie?
Narrowing down my favourite pie would be a very hard task. I love sweet and savoury equally. I’d have to say that my personal favourites are buffalo chicken, chocolate chip, and pulled pork, though not all together of course!

Are you a sauce or no sauce meat pie person? And do you lift the lid or do you put the sauce on top?
Depending on the pie depends on if I use sauce or not and what type but typically yes. With a traditional meat pie I am very likely to be reaching for the bottle, with some of my others I try and pair an appropriate condiment with it, e.g. Greek yogurt with gozleme, sour cream with Tex-Mex and so on. I think the sauce can really enhance the pie and acts as a finishing touch, just like it would on a non-meat pie dish.

I leave my lid on though, I’m a messy enough eater that I can appreciate the brilliance of the pie keeping everything intact, I don’t want to remove the top and open myself up to making a disaster of my outfit while I eat.SarahWalker2-001

I know you’ve shared your love of the meat pie with your family, were they as wary as you of it? Are they now leading a pie-revolution of their own back in America?
They all instantly fell in love with the pie when I gave it to them. Everyone else in my family loves chicken pot pie, which is generally the only savoury pie you find in America so they had no qualms about trying another meat pie dish. We make a big deal of it whenever someone comes to visit me, preparing my newest creation along with our favourite side. I generally pick what sides will go best with the pie, although most of the time I choose a roast pumpkin, feta and spinach salad because it is my absolute favourite.

Some of my family has started cooking up pies back at home. We gave my sister and her husband a pie maker as an engagement present and my dad has already made a request for a few different pies he wants me to try out on him when we get home for Christmas. I’m very glad about this because these are ones that I’ve created from traditional Swedish recipes that my dad’s side of the family make every year for Christmas.

Where do you get your ideas for recipes from?
I lived a bit all over in the US. I was born and raised up north in New England before moving down to Texas for junior high and high school, and I finished off by moving to Philadelphia for university and a few years after. I think that is part of what influenced me to create my own recipes and why I have such a variety to my recipes; I feel in love with very different types of food from very different regions.

Apart from yourself, who gets to taste test your pies? You must have lots of eager volunteers!
I feed everything I make to my husband because he loves my cooking. However, since he does love my pies so much and is always encouraging me to try selling them, marketing them or finding some way to get my cooking out there I do try and find other, less impartial people to eat what I’ve made. I try not to overwhelm people and serve pie every time we have people over for dinner but it’s a good bet I’ll sneak some kind of pie into the meal fifty per cent of the time. I also have a friend who has begun trading technical favours at work for pie, we’ve got a nice barter system going and it keeps us both happy.

So if you share Sarah’s love of pie, or just enjoy cooking/baking and are looking for a new twist on old favourites, head over to her Kickstarter page and pledge! Pledges close on 16 December 2014, so make sure you get in before then.


Michelle Brotohusodo

Michelle moved to Canberra vowing to stay for two years, tops. More than 10 years later, she’s a bona fide Canberra convert. When she’s not working in her day job as a public servant, she’s enjoying Canberra’s culinary delights or finding fun things to do/see in and around town. More about the Author