MATTHEW Clarke may have found the secret to the perfect pie.
A chef by trade, he started Vardo Pies in Bathurst about 18 months ago and has already enjoyed enormous success.
Mr Clarke first competed in the 2018 Royal Bathurst Show, where he achieved a win, and in September last year he entered six pies in the Great Aussie Pie Competition, with every one receiving a medal.
At last month's Royal Bathurst Show he won first in the "plain meat pie commercial bakery" category, and another first in "any other savory pastry" for his lamb Irish stew.
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The two wins made him the "most successful commercial baking exhibitor".
"Last year I entered the show and won one award so to double my success this year was amazing," Mr Clarke said.
"To me it means what I'm cooking is still relevant, and is still meeting industry standards."
He said when entering competition his preparation is exactly the same as when he is preparing his pies for his customers.
"I just cook it how I always cook it and it will be judged on its merit."
Creating a meal and then wrapping it in pastry.Matthew Clarke
Mr Clarke's next competition is the Greatest Aussie Pie Competition later this year and he is setting his sights on more success.
Last year Mr Clarke won medals with all the pies he entered as his plain, curry beef and chicken and vegetable pies received bronze medals; the beef bourguignon and Moroccan vegetable hotpot received silver medals; and his Irish lamb stew pie won gold.
That's not a bad haul for someone who has trained as a chef, not a baker.
Mr Clarke said each time he creates a pie he thinks about "creating a meal and then wrapping it in pastry".
He previously owned the Hill End General Store but bought a new business, Well Fed Catering, in January with the aim of cutting down the two hours a day travelling he was doing to get to work and back.
"Now I just find I'm at work two hours longer," he laughed.
But he has enjoyed the move and is now incorporating his gourmet pies into the new business.
"We're doing mini pies for the catering," he said.
Mr Clarke said both businesses were keeping him busy, but he wouldn't swap it for the world.
"In June and July I'm fully booked and we will also be at the Bathurst Winter Festival," he said.
"One night we're at the festival and also catering for 180 people across town, so we're pretty busy."
If you want to try one of Mr Clarke's award-winning pies and can't wait until the Bathurst Winter festival, they are currently available at Al Dente, Brilliant Street Cafe, the Vale Road coffee van or Moubar Vintage.
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