While many people are describing 2020 as the year they would like to forget, there were a couple of silver linings for us that took some of the sting out of the unpredictable , unprecedented and thoroughly disrupted year that 2020 was.
Recovering from the cloud of uncertainty in 2020
While the early part of the year saw business wound right back as the fear of Covid took hold, when we eventually saw some return to normality we found business lifting back beyond pre-Covid levels, as people who may normally have been overseas were forced to holiday and explore their own backyard. For many Sydney-siders the Blue Mountains (and it’s famous pie shop) were the first point of call as we are so close, yet the vastness and natural beauty makes it seem like a world away when you’re here. The surge of visitors from the cities into the regional areas still continues today and hundreds of businesses like ours are grateful for the benefits this influx has bought to our local communities.
A real silver lining!
Another positive for us was that amidst all the event cancellations, the two national pie competitions were able to continue albeit in slightly different, Covid safe formats. While we failed to take out the title of Australia’s best pie (as we did in 2015) every entry we put in took out a gold, silver or bronze medal. The gold medalists go into the running for the best in category e.g Best vegetarian, best Gourmet, etc. And much to our delight we won Australia’s best Gluten free pie!
Overcoming the Gluten Free Challenge
That award was such a nice surprise for us, as we had struggled providing gluten free options for a number of years. The problem is that gluten free pastry has very different characteristics to the traditional wheat flour based pastry. The biggest problem we faced is the chance of contamination where wheat flour can come into contact with the gluten free pastry in an environment where (traditionally) flour is almost everywhere. The end result is that we are unable to use any of our normal pastry making equipment to manufacture any Gluten free products.
The breakthrough for us came a couple of years ago when a company called ready Bake set up a dedicated gluten free pastry manufacturing facility in QLD. Ready Bake have always specialized in frozen raw and baked pastry shells that they supply all over Australia. This new facility meant they were able to now safely supply some gluten free alternatives.
Virtually all our pie fillings are gluten free so being able to purchase an unbaked gluten free pie shell that we could fill and top with our own ingredients meant we were now able to offer something to people that had been excluded from the Mountain High Pie experience due to wheat and gluten intolerance. Our gluten free pies still may have slight traces of gluten due to the fact that there is still wheat etc on the premises (people who have life threatening conditions would be aware of this) but for most people with mild gluten and wheat intolerance, the minute traces of gluten that may be possible do not pose a threat and most importantly, allows many people who had given up all hope of ever having a pie again the opportunity to once again enjoy a pie worry free.