Jamie Scott brings down-under style meat pies up and over
The food you grow up with can carve a special place in your heart that can’t be replaced easily. For some it’s casseroles, for others it’s a special stew—for Jamie Scott, it’s meat pies.
Hailing from New Zealand, Scott grew up with his mom’s bacon, egg, and cheese pies served cold for grub on days he spent at the beach as a kid.
New Zealand’s pie industry is a seriously big business. To get an idea, Kiwis eat roughly 68 million pies per year, according to The Heart Foundation. With a population of 4.7 million, that’s 14.5 pies a year per person. Every little town has a bakery with its own unique flavours and variations on the country-wide delicacy of meat and gravy, and sometimes veggies, encircled in a buttery and flakey four-inch puff pastry packet.
Scott first came to Canada in 2006 as a part of what New Zealanders call “overseas experience,” which simply refers to an extended period of time (one year plus) working abroad. He stayed with a friend in Edmonton while working, but had no idea he’d end up staying.
“I was here for about a week and started looking for meat pies like I grew up with back home. I couldn’t find anything, bought a few from the store—wasn’t happy with them—threw them out,” he says. “So I ended up making them like within a week of being here.”
Making meat pies in his home kitchen sated his own cravings, but soon Scott began to realize there was more he could do. He knew there were more uprooted Kiwis like him in Alberta and he knew what they were most likely to be craving.
“I talked about it and thought about it, and finally got to a point where I thought: If I don’t start it now, I’m never going to and I’m gonna retire a grumpy old man.”
After marrying an Alberta girl and settling in Edmonton, he decided to start making meat pies for the masses, as well as longing expats like himself. But after blowing up his own oven three times, and gaining a devoted customer base at farmers’ markets, he moved into an industrial kitchen to up the ante.
With a switch in kitchens, South Island Pie Co. can make 72 heavenly pies every 12 minutes. Scott’s flavours include “The Wilkie” (steak and cheese), “The Great Scott” (bacon and egg), “The Shepherdless Pie” (potato and ale), and the “The Chook” (chicken, cranberry, and camembert), among several others. His recipes are based upon his mom and nana’s own, with some added tricks like paprika and rosemary.
Traditional classics of the New Zealand takeout favourite include garlicky mince meat or steak and mushroom; beloved new-world versions include butter chicken or donair, among others. Some disciple bakeries back home will offer a modest selection of 50 flavours, plus. Though he’s nowhere near 50 flavours, it warms Scott’s heart to see a fellow Kiwi discover his pies and float back to memories of home. It also makes him happy to spread a little pie culture up North—once you try one of these beauties, you’ll never go back.
“Every now and then, a Kiwi or an Aussie would come up and find us and their face would just light up,” Scott says. “It gives you an awesome feeling giving them what they grew up with as well.”
With a new storefront location opening in the city any day now, in the meantime you can find South Island Pie Co. at City Market Downtown as well as at a few retail locations. Scott’s pies slang at $7 a piece, six for $40 or $75 for a dozen. He also drives his branded GMC Savana cargo van, delivering pies to market, which makes quite a commotion of hungry drivers when it’s on the road. So if you see him, be sure to wave (down a few pies).
South Island Pie Co.
10552 114 Street