In 2013 Tuck Shop Pies co-founders Olivia Fowler and Ryan McLeod, both from Wellington, found themselves struck with the impulse to eat their ultimate comfort food – meat pies. Sadly this craving coincided with the shocking realisation that you couldn’t get an authentic NZ pie anywhere in Shanghai – let alone China. Thankfully, Olivia’s mother taught her how to make them back in New Zealand (her mum is one genius in the kitchen). She made a batch of classic steak and mushroom pies to tide them over but the fix was temporary and the cravings were real.
More pies were made and more pies were devoured. The duo started playing around with different flavour combinations, ‘chicken and leek’ and a favourite back home ‘ground beef and cheese’. They soon discovered they weren’t the only ones missing the comfort of a homely humble pie. Their friends – other expats in Shanghai – became unofficial pie taste testers. Olivia and Ryan worked tirelessly to perfect the pie recipes they had grown up with. The pies had to taste like the ones back home, this meant sourcing premium New Zealand beef and dairy (butter & cream) for their pies.
“At this point we were well connected with Kea members who were such a great help”, says Olivia a graduate of International Business from Otago University. “We connected with a World Class New Zealander who was in the food and business sector and he was a huge support with costing and sourcing product. When we needed professional office assistance, Kea was able to connect us with the right people in-market.”
Olivia and Ryan have now formally established their business in Shanghai and entered into a distribution arrangement which sees Tuck Shop Pies stocked by 150 vendors throughout China. “We are responsible for our own promotion and marketing, and it’s a great way to get in touch with the locals and promote the concept of eating a pie – the Kiwi way.”
The name inspired by New Zealand school canteens – Tuck Shops. The pies gave testament to the love of good wholesome food the couple grew up with back in NZ. From something so simple in New Zealand, this couple have grown their business and broken in to the China market in under two years.