16 June 2023

Port Kembla bakery joins upper crust of pie makers after podium finish in national competition

| Keeli Royle
Join the conversation
baker with pies

Tonitto Continental Cakes owner Wayne Henderson with his award-winning pies. Photo: Keeli Royle.

A small cake shop in Port Kembla can now lay claim to two of the best pies in the country after it came home from a national competition with multiple silver medals.

Tonitto Continental Cakes beat hundreds of bakeries with its creations as determined by dozens of top judges in Australia’s Best Pie Competition.

Tonitto owner Wayne Henderson had never entered the competition before but thought he’d give it a crack.

“It was an exciting day on Wednesday morning when I woke up to see our name on the board,” Wayne said.

“Those two silvers from first go, basically, is pretty exciting.”

The bakery’s beef and Guinness pie was a favourite with the judges, with Wayne’s slow-roasted meat and veggies cooked to perfection.

“It takes longer but you get that really fine, melt-in-your-mouth meat,” Wayne said.

“I think that’s what really won them over.”

READ ALSO Could Port Kembla be the new cool kid on the block?

His other frontrunner was a pulled-pork and apple creation.

“I just put some thought into it and went, what goes well with pork?” Wayne said.

“Then I made up a nice sauce to go with it, nice gravy, fresh apple, roasted fresh fennel and it really stood out as a good-tasting pie.”

He says that making pies to perfection can take hours and that he only uses quality ingredients.

“Using fresh ingredients is vital, you can’t use dry herbs or artificial stuff,” Wayne said.

“It has to be pure and you have to have the right amount.”

But now he’s had a taste of success, Wayne has his eye on the top prize.

“The guys who won gold have won it for four or five years, so now I’m like, right, I want your medal,” he said.

And he’s willing to put in the work to make sure the pies are even better next year.

“Tweaking the little bits and pieces, I think it’s more to do with the pastry now rather than the actual flavour of the pie,” Wayne said.

“I think the actual filling spoke for itself but for the pastry, we’re going to do a bit more research and development on that now to make sure it’s spot on.”

The word has already spread about how good the cake shop’s pies are, so much so that Wayne is struggling to meet demand.

“We’re selling that many pies at the moment that we can’t actually keep up,” he said.

“We’re literally making more and more every day.”

READ ALSO Winter time in the Southern Highlands is wonderful … and so are the pies

It’s a welcome boost for Wayne, who took over Tonitto’s three years ago, right at the start of lockdown.

He’s determined to bring the bakery into the new age, and dedicated to trying new things to match Port Kembla’s changing demographic.

Having once been a high-end chef, Wayne’s using his knack for creating incredible flavours to make these gourmet pies even more outstanding and is looking at opportunities to make them available to more of the community.

“Now we’ve seen what we can do, we can always do more,” he said.

“We can go online with our pies, we can expand it there … we even have Menulog so we can get onto that with the pies and really take hold.”

But despite his new-found success, Wayne insists these pies won’t break the bank.

“Just because we’ve won an award we’re not going to put our prices up,” he said.

And as the weather cools down, now could be the perfect time to try a tasty pastry from Tonitto’s.

“Hot food is the key for winter, having a winter warmer and value for money as well,” Wayne said.

Join the conversation

All Comments
  • All Comments
  • Website Comments

Daily Digest

Want the best Illawarra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Illawarra stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.