The town of Ypres was blitzed in the First World War but has been faithfully re-built in traditional style. Not so the Pidy factory, just on the outskirts of Ypres. This is a mixture of craft and automation as UK general manager Robert Whittle explained to British Baker as we toured both Pidy at Ypres, and its factory in Halluin, France, to see new products launched in the last 12 months.
This NPD has helped attract new customers. Indeed, the growing list now includes Marks & Spencer, Morrisons, Sainsbury's, Waitrose and Le Pain Quotidien. At both sites, men and machines make pastry cases exported all over the world to supermarket and foodservice sectors.
Available direct from Pidy UK, based in Northampton, or just launched through Amazon, there are pastry carriers in the shape of spoons, squares, triangles, tulips (yes!), tartlets, and vol-au-vents. And now the company also supplies wraps and miniature wafer cones.
One new dough contains 50% less fat but it does not suit all products.
However, if you prepare and serve buffets and meals just think 'fillings' because Pidy provides the bases.
For a talking point, there are little coffee cups, made out of pastry and lined with chocolate. And no, it does not melt. Your customers can drink the coffee then eat the cup. The other way round is rather messy!
Pidy makes pastry at three sites: Ypres in Belgium, Halluin in France and just outside New York, in the US.
The family company, with family values, has seen massive growth in the space of just two generations. Current chief executive Thierry de Haeck's father Andre started Pidy in his kitchen and then set up a shop. Thierry says: "A pastry chef by training, he started making mini vol-au-vents.
"The mini size was unusual in 1967. Business grew rapidly, one factory followed another and the Ypres site in Belgium is now 20,000 square metres.
"I joined in 1972 age 17," says Thierry, who went on to study business and economics and became responsible for the sales and export drive. "We acquired the Halluin site in France in 1985 then in 1995 we bought our first factory in New York."
Now, new pastry types have been launched by the company alongside the choux, puff and short dough (see panel) while customers can choose between pastry made with butter or vegetable oil.
Pidy also supplies waffle dough, made into cones. And if you are wondering where natural colours such as carrot, spinach, black squid, and tomato come in, that's for colouring the cones. The fillings are up to you!
Ask for the recipe booklet, with ideas from the UK and worldwide.
Pidy: facts and figures
l Pidy makes ready-to-fill pastry products in Belgium, France and the US
l Also supplies new wraps and cones
l Exports to 42 countries
l Newly launched supply through:amazon.co.uk/pidy
l UK head office in Northampton; general manager is Robert Whittle
l Pastry make-up machinery includes Rademaker, Fritsch, Comas, while ovens include Gouet and Van der Pol
Available through Pidy UK head office, Amazon grocery (see above) cash and carry, foodservice wholesalers such as Brakes and 3663, Sterling Group and other independents (not currently Bako or BFP bakery wholesalers)
l Pate a foncer, a new dough development, which contains 50% less fat than traditional doughs
l Sponge dough, made fresh, square sheets, with various diameters and a limited eight-week shelf life
l Puff pastry, (to an original recipe perfected by founder Andre Dehaeck)
l Short dough, mainly produced with real butter for tartlets
l Choux buns, hand-made which then go through an automated line. Once baked these buns can be de-hydrated to give one year shelf life
l Croustade, can be made in varieties including chocolate, sugar-free, neutral and wholewheat for various size tartlets