Celebrating Australia Day with a Meat Pie Contest

Chefs from The Little Nell at the start of the contest. Element 47 took second place and the silver medal.

Chefs from The Little Nell at the 2015 Meat Pie Contest. Element 47 took second place and the silver medal with an Emma Farms dish.

Aspen Snowmass ramped up for Australia Day a few days early with the 2015 Neil Perry Meat Pie Contest on the rooftop of the Residences at The Little Nell. Olympic and X Games gold medalist snowboarder Torah Bright and Sam Perry, wife of celebrity Chef Neil Perry, served as judges.

For the contest held on Jan. 21, talented Aspen Snowmass chefs vied for the honor of baking the winning, traditional Australian favorite cuisine. Representing top restaurants including The Little Nell’s element 47 and Ajax Tavern, Viceroy Snowmass’ eight K (both hotels are run by Australian General Managers), Ryno’s, Gwyn’s High Alpine, 520 Grill and Australian-owned Victoria’s Espresso, seven chefs took part.

Baking at high altitude, with some chefs not having prepared or tasted a meat pie previously, was no easy feat, but offered room for creativity. Dishes ranged from traditional to the unexpected, with Gwyn’s High Alpine’s Colorado lamb meat pie with parsnips and mushrooms served with a curry aoli and 520 Grill’s street-food style turkey empanada meat pie. Defending a winning title from last year’s Pavlova contest, Pastry Chef Ashley Jenkin of Viceroy Snowmass, once again took the cake, with her winning meat pie and a first place finish.

Aspen Snowmass' Lucy Lea Tucker with the skiing kangaroo.

Aspen Snowmass’ Lucy Lea Tucker with the skiing kangaroo.

Second place went to Chef Chris “Gerber” Mathie of The Little Nell for an Emma Farms beef meat pie with a French onion soup gravy and flaky pie crust.

Third place was claimed by the only Aussie in the bunch, John Beatty of Victoria’s Espresso, who served a traditional meat pie with a recipe from his homeland.

Ryno’s Chef Zander Tekus received an honorable mention for his take on the meat pie.

On Australia Day proper, Mon., Jan. 26, celebrations kick off at Aspen Mountain with the Silver Queen Gondola opening one hour early at 8 am, along with Vegemite and Lamington samples, free Australian flag stickers, temporary tattoos and more offered on the Gondola Plaza from 8 – 9 am. Visit participating on-mountain restaurants all day for BBQs featuring sausage sizzles, hamburgers with beetroot, pineapple and fried eggs, as well as The Little Nell’s Ajax Tavern and element 47 bar will be serving their silver medal meat pie all day. Guest Services at all four mountains will also offer free Tim Tams, while supplies last. And you may even cross paths with Aspen Snowmass’ skiing kangaroo.