‘Who will save the pies?’ was the question left hanging over the crowd at the last ever pork pie contest.
What was touted as the 25th and final Pork Pie Appreciation Society contest at Ripponden was held on Saturday.
The annual event – launched in 1992 – has been credited with boosting the whole industry in the north.
Two firms that have dominated the contest for a decade and earned more than a crust from pies are Huddersfield’s own – Hinchliffe’s and Bolster Moor.
And to shake things up for the final ever bite, the organisers persuaded both butchers to step to the other side of the table and become guest judges – guaranteeing a different one/two for the first time in years.
The move finally ended Huddersfield’s stranglehold over the contest with Wakefield’s Hofmann’s taking home first place.
In the ‘Artisan’ class – Honley Butchers fared better taking home the first place with its pork, chorizo, goat’s cheese and sweet chilli pie.
Winning baker, Nigel Hofmann, who in 2011 won the Britain’s best sausage contest, said he was delighted to get the trophy after many years of entering.
“It’s absolutely brilliant!” he said. “It’s been going 25 years and we’ve entered on and off quite a few times.
“We’ve been runner up but we’ve never actually won it before.”
Guest judge, Simon Haigh of Bolster Moor Farm Shop, who has taken home the first place prize for the past two years, said it was a shame the contest was ending.
“It’ll be a big miss,” he said. “It’s thanks to competitions like this that pork pies are highly regarded.
“Out of the competitions that we do this is the most prestigious because it’s so fairly judged.
“It’s not one or two people’s opinion, it’s ten people’s opinion using a score sheet.”
Craig Midwood, of Hinchliffe’s at Netherton, agreed.
”It’s a shame it’s ending,” he said. “We’re going to miss it.”
Founding member and organiser, Kevin Booth, said: “I can’t believe where 25 years have gone.
“When we started we were in our late 30s, so I think it’s time to call it a day while we’re on top.
“When we started pork pies were inferior food, where people had to put Tabasco or brown sauce on it to enjoy it.
“But over the years the pork pie has become the thing to have.”
But as the contest wrapped up for the final time, a mysterious man took hold of the microphone and urged new blood to come forward and take over.
So is it the end or not?
Asked if he would consider taking over, Simon of Bolster Moor, joked: “Perhaps – as long as Craig doesn’t enter!”