Scottish-born chef Raymond Capaldi has spent his career working in high-end restaurants in Europe, Asia and Australia.
When he closed his hatted restaurant Hare & Grace in 2015, he moved onto consulting in hospitality. “One of the companies I consulted for had pubs and their pies were really bad, so I created these pie recipes. I realised it was a really good pie and that I needed to sell it,” he tells SBS Food.
He launched Wonder Pies, a wholesale and catering pie business. Seeing how successful it became in only two years, Capaldi and his associates Jodi Crocker and Dean Joseph, decided to open a pie shop in Melbourne’s CBD, at the end of last year.
But Wonderpop & Deli is not just like any ordinary pie shop. First, Capaldi has perfected a technique to keep his pies light, and crispy on top. He has replaced butter with vegetable lard, and uses a mix of shortcrust pastry on the bottom of his pies and puff pastry on top.
The pies come with a variety of fillings, like the traditional chunky beef with gravy. But customers are also into more exciting flavours like Thai green chicken curry, mac ’n’ cheese (macaroni, vintage cheddar and mustard topped with crushed Cheezels) and the piesagne (pasta, Bolognese sauce and cheese are layered inside the pie).
Capaldi’s personal favourite is the cauliflower, leek and cheddar pie: “It’s a beautiful pie; it’s nice to eat and you don’t feel too heavy after,” he says. And since the pastry is made with vegetable lard, the vegan and vegetarian pies come with the same casing as all the other pies.
Another big hit at Wonderpop & Deli is the Tradie Slammer, which resembles a pie burger. It's a mince pie covered in caramelised onion jam and sandwiched in a brioche bun. “It’s been one of our biggest sellers,” says Capaldi. “When I was in London, I didn’t have much money as a young chef – so I’d get a bread roll, put a pie in it and eat it like that. It used to fill me up. We also do that in Scotland.”
“When I was in London, I didn’t have much money as a young chef – so I’d get a bread roll, put a pie in it and eat it like that."
The chef is also experimenting further by creating other pie hybrids like the pie au feu. The baked chunky beef pie served with vegetables is a take on pot-au-feu, the classic French beef stew.
When it comes to dessert, you can also go the classic route with the apple pie, inspired by Capaldi’s grandmother's recipe or go wild with the Golden Gaytime pie, which is filled with vanilla/toffee custard and topped with toffee and crushed Golden Gaytime biscuit.
While the pies at Wonderpop & Deli are unusual, Capaldi makes sure that taste comes first. “It’s not being different just to be different,” he says. “We try to keep to what people like. I walk around supermarkets and see what people buy.”
If you want to mix things up, the restaurant also serves colourful salads, jaffles and light breakfast.
18 Little Lonsdale Street, Melbourne, (03) 9639 5515
Mon – Fri 7 am – 5 pm
Featuring spinach, rocket, dill, mint and parsley, this pie is a fantastic way to get in your five-a-day!
Luke loves a good meat pie when he comes home and this time he's found a chef that is renowned for his award-winning goat pies. His best pie that won was Vietnamese inspired.