Tip Top Savory Pies, a Boulder-based company, is looking to break into the local food scene and beyond.
Currently only sold over the counter at Old Oak Coffeehouse in Niwot, their pies are mainly available by order. After opening last July, the business found that the pies are popular enough that two employees had to be hired.
They aren’t pies in the sense one would think of in America.These pies are savory and sweet pies that come in a variety of flavors, and are based on the style of pies found in New Zealand, Australia and England. It’s a full meal.
This is thanks to a combination of owners Robert Morrow — a native New Zealander — and Christine Carr — a chef with a degree in pastry from the French Culinary Institute.
The two met roughly 16 years ago when they both worked in the food products industry, selling wholesale goods to supermarkets. They’ve been friends ever since, and, as of last summer, have become business partners.
Morrow said that after living in the states, he was craving a staple from his home country, a good savory pie. Carr was living in New York at the time, all the while Morrow was searching to find something that matched what he was used to.
His search continued to no avail. “Obviously my connection with the pies is in New Zealand, “ Morrow said. “We grew up with them. There’s a store on every corner almost. Some years ago I decided to search out the pies in America and try to find a good one, which led to giving me the drive to try and start a pie company to produce top quality pies to introduce into the American market.”
Carr said that she was also looking for something outside of the food products industry.
“Even though I worked in the products industry, I had studied to become a chef,” Carr said. “I had always wanted to do something in the food industry with my degree.”
So the two came together to formulate a plan, and realized that spices were going to be key. They found Savory Spice Shop, which has turned out to be a good match.
“When we first started the company we did a lot of research on Savory Spice,” Carr said. “We knew that would be important to us in all of our recipes. ...What’s wonderful about it is that we can go in with a recipe in mind and they always find the perfect combination for us.”
For example, some of their seasonal recipes include hot cocoa/peppermint, eggnog and maple varieties of scones.
The two are constantly in their test kitchen working on new recipes, but they still have the staples -re breakfast pies with bacon and eggs, spinach pies … all the way to the classic steak and ale pies (mushroom and ale for vegetarians), with customized flavors available as well.
Carr said that after traveling throughout Europe and learning from some of the world’s top pastry chefs, the trip was culminated by pies in England.
“I just fell in love with the whole pie culture,” Carr said. “Lost recipes, vintage recipes, really the old-fashioned way of doing things. What I did was take all of the French culinary skills and combined them with what I learned from countryside kitchens in England.”
Her return to the states just happened to coincide with Morrow’s quest to find a good pie, and Tip Top Savory Pies was born.
The pies even received recognition from renowned celebrity chef Jeremiah Tower for being “the perfect blend of flaky and moist.”Morrow said. “Because of that, our pies are gourmet compared to the pies you would find in New Zealand or England,” Carr said. “We appeal to a lot of tastes. There are a lot of vegetarians here, so we have plenty of those options too.
“I’ve had friends come out and try our steak and ale,” he added. “They can’t wait until we can export it out to New Zealand.”
They were recently featured on the Gabby Gourmet radio show out of Denver after someone close to the host happened to try one of their pies.
“We’re just getting the word out there so people can try it,” Morrow said. “It’s a product that people have heard of but they don’t quite understand. A lot of people don’t get that it’s a full meal, it’s filling.
The pies themselves are five inches wide and about two inches deep. All of them come frozen, and they can be heated in the oven or in the microwave. Morrow said that one unique thing about their pastry is that it will actually become crisp after being cooked in the microwave instead of becoming soggy.
Ingredients are all natural and locally-sourced where possible. Carr uses just four ingredients in her pastry — water, flour, butter and salt. “We don’t like using words like ‘organic’ and things like that because Christine and I have been through the health food industry and we’ve been through the whole organic thing and we’re sick of talking about it,” Morrow said.
The pies and other pastries are available for retail, and they hope to eventually expand into more local coffee shops and other businesses aside from Old Oak Coffeehouse. A brick and mortar shop could also be on the horizon.
Shipping to anywhere in the US will be on the horizon soon. Sales have only gone up in big chunks each month since they began in July.
Tip Top Savory Pies is holding a pop-up event from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Savory Spice, 2041 Broadway, Boulder, on Dec. 2. For more information on the pies or to place an order, visit www.tiptopsavorypies.com or call 720-258-5008.