Rating system mooted for pies

SOUTHERN Cross University lecturer and researcher Dr Robert Smith wants the humble Aussie meat pie put on the cultural pedestal it deserves.

He is looking for industry insiders keen to lift their pastries to lofty new heights on the national agenda and has flagged a new rating system to achieve just that.

Speaking at the Australasian Regional Food Conference in Kingscliff yesterday, Dr Smith proposed an idea similar to the three-star Michelin guide - an international restaurant-rating system - to rescue Australia's original fast food from the oblivion he believes is being caused by modern freeways and by-passes.

"The one star means it's worth stopping if you're driving by, and that's what Humble Pies at Billinudgel is like and Uncle Tom's Pies (at Mullumbimby) was like. Two stars mean you have to make a detour to get to it - that's what Uncle Toms is like now," he said.

"It's about the quality of the experience and the effort required to get there. If the quality is so good that you would, or should, go out of your way to get to it, it's worth the two stars.

"Three stars has got to be pretty rare for a destination; that's where it becomes the object of your journey itself."

Dr Smith argues there are few things more Australian than the meat pie and his system could draw tourists keen to experience the unique culinary experience off the main route.

"It would throw into sharp relief those really good pie outlets that were never on the highway - the main block of Lismore for example has four really good ones.

"I've taken foreign food experts for a walk around that Lismore block and, in folk-culture terms, they think Lismore is the centre of Australia."

Bernie's Bakery employees Melanie Irwin and Tracey Marsden reckon the idea has merit.

They sell "a couple of hundred pies a day" and say the best sellers are the curry beef pies and the cheese and bacon pies.



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