Two Altona mates who opened a bakery in Sunshine two years ago have been awarded Australia’s Best Pie for a New-Zealand style Thai vegetable curry vegan pie.

New Zealand-born Doug Meijer and Adrian Apswoude launched Ka Pies in 2014, buying a Hampshire Road bakery which left them only $800 in the bank.

The pair had no baking experience.

It is the first time in the history of the Baking Association of Australia’s competition that a meat-free pie has won.

Mr Apswoude said he was working in IT with Victoria Police when Mr Meijer, then a manager at Bunnings, heard about an old man selling a bakery.

“Dougie went, ‘Let’s make New Zealand pies’, and I was like, ‘No way’,” Mr Apswoude said.

“And then we made some and we tasted them and they tasted great and I was like, let’s give it a crack.”

The pair’s winning pie was selected from 1700 entries.

Judging criteria included colour, how evenly baked, thickness of the pastry and how much the top had puffed up.

The Thai vegetable curry pie was originally vegetarian before the pair realised that with a small alteration they could market it to a wider audience.

“We realised that our pastry had 10 per cent butter and we’re like, if we just eliminate that 10 per cent butter, it becomes a vegan pie and that’s another point of sale,” Mr Apswoude said.

Mr Meijer said all of the pair’s pies were ‘New Zealand style’.

“We use 100 per cent puff pastry and all of our fillings are made from scratch, with the best quality ingredients we can source,” he said.

“They’re a hand-crafted boutique pie and we’re very proud of what we have produced over the last 20 months.”

Ka Pies is derived from the Maori words, Ka Pai, which means “good/goodness” or is sometimes used as a greeting.

The pies are now distributed all over Melbourne and to New South Wales, Queensland and New Zealand.