We spend five minutes with Shaun Pyne, who works in finance by day. When he puts on his casual wear though, he’s Pyney, famous for his epic pie reviews. Since starting his Facebook page, Pyney’s Pie Reviews less than a year ago, Shaun has amassed a following of more than 8000, appeared on numerous TV shows, and has travelled all over to sample the best pies Australia has to offer.
Where are you based?
I’m in Noosa, on the Sunny Coast. It’s a beautiful neck of the woods.
Tell us about yourself:
My background is finance, so I’ve got my own business here on the Sunshine Coast and I’ve been doing finance for 20-odd years. I do sports management as well. My profession is finance, but I look after professional athletes – I’ve got cricketers and rugby league players who I manage.
How did Pyney’s Pie reviews get started?
I’ve always loved pies, and in 2019 we did a trip out to the Big Red Bash at Hurstville with about six mates and their wives. Basically, we used to have get-togethers and meetings before we were going and one of the wives said, “we should all do something a bit different”, and I decided I was going to have a meat pie at every town we stop at.
I ate 23 pies in 18 days – which was ridiculous – and I started to blog about it and do some videos. Then basically came back in around August/September last year and created the page. I remember the first review I ever did was the Pomona Bakery – a good mate of mine, Anthony owns that – and that’s how it started. Nearly 10,000 followers later and I’ve done regular radio stints on ABC, I’ve been on Channel Seven’s Sunrise, I’ve done Channel Ten crosses before… it’s a bit of fun.
What do you get out of doing the reviews (except pies!)?
It was never about the score. I’m very passionate about supporting rural and country towns. Through my business in finance I realised how small businesses are struggling, and that was the whole idea. It was never about going to do a review at Beefy’s or those big chains; it was about telling the story of the average mums and dads that own bakeries and have had a crack and have been very successful. At the end of the day it’s about letting my followers know, “get in the car, and go to Blackbutt, go to Dayboro and spend some money, have a coffee and have a look around these little towns.”
So many people now have rung and said “I really appreciate what you’re doing and putting these little country towns on the map”, so to speak. If I can play that small part, well, everything helps during these times.
You were asked to judge the Australia’s Best Pie and Pasty Competition but couldn’t go due to COVID-19. How did it feel?
No! I was devo. That was something I was really looking forward to. I’ve been speaking to Tony (BAA) about that and they’ve put the dates out for next year, so hopefully we can get the borders cleaned up and we can get down there and actually do that, because I’m super excited. Just to be asked by Tony to become a judge is overwhelming and something I can’t wait to do.
What do you think makes a great pie?
To be, it’s got to be what’s in it. My wife says I’m a real basics man, but I am branching out. I did my very first potato and bacon review out at Imbil on the weekend and it was so good – traditional potato on the meat and cooked perfectly. But to me, the pastry has got to has got to hold together – that’s the number one for me. I’ve had so many bakeries cook me so many different varieties and everyone is different. But one thing I am absolutely adamant about is that a good pie will not need any sauce. I’m very, very firm about that.