That goal was accomplished last year, when he won a gold award for the bakery’s Mince and Gravy pie. They also won a silver award for their Mince and Cheese entry and were in the top five in the Gourmet Meat category with their Butter Chicken entry.
Lee wanted to win the award so that his wife, Shuly, could stand on the stage and feel the applause of the audience; his way of acknowledging her love, patience and understanding in making their bakery a success. But it took a lot of hard work to get that gold award.
Just three weeks before the 2017 judging day, Lee and Shuly bought the rundown bakery that had a reputation fit to destroy a business. They completed a major renovation of the premises and added new equipment. “We had to strip away all the shop, replace the flooring and paint everywhere,” said Lee. “It had a bad reputation and without getting the gold award it would’ve been very hard to build this business back up.”
After winning the gold award Lee had people come from everywhere wanting to try their pies. “One guy even drove two and a half hours from Hamilton area to taste them,” he said.
Lee said he tastes the pies every day to make sure the flavours are the same. He learned how to bake in his spare time with his friend, Boana Hout. “He entered the awards too and got highly commended. I beat him but we’re still good friends,” laughed Lee.
Lee is looking forward to the July 2018 Awards. This year the challenge between the two friends is on, with Lee developing a Cambodian influenced pork belly with diced apple and secret spices recipe for a Gourmet Meat entry and a Gourmet Fruit pie with a Cambodian twist to it. “I was stunned at winning the award last year. It’s the first award I’ve won in my life and I only dreamed it could happen.” Lee, who was once a Cambodian refugee with limited education, is now a successful business owner working hard towards a better future for his family.