Wednesday March 09, 2016

Meet Ambassador Matt Grant, world envoy for the pasty

Canadian Matt Grant was appointed 2016 "World Pasty Ambassador" at this year's World Pasty Championship.

Canadian Matt Grant was appointed 2016 "World Pasty Ambassador" at this year's World Pasty Championship. (gbpastyandpie.ca)

Listen 6:04

Like the pasty warmly enfolds turnip, onion, potato, and minced beef, Matt Grant has been warmly enfolded by the community of pasty makers.

Matt Grant pasty ambassador

Matt Grant says his mother taught him how to make his award-winning pasty. (gbpastyandpie.ca)


Grant runs the Great British Pasty & Pie Company in Arnprior, Ont. The English expat has only been making pasties for a few years now. But he's good at it. So good that, last year, he travelled to Cornwall, England, to compete in the World Pasty Championships. After finishing fourth in 2015, Grant vowed to return — a move which just paid off in a big way.

"I was just blown away to be named the ambassador this year," Grant tells As It Happens guest host Helen Mann."The award has never been given to a Canadian before, so that's a first."

"It's awarded to the person who embodies the spirit of the competition," Grant explains. "The person who does the most to promote the pasty."

Grant takes great pride in his award-winning pasty recipes. This year, he entered a Canadian back bacon and cheese pasty to the competition. He's known for a thin pastry which he says optimizes the taste of the filling.

"For me, pasty is about the filling — the pastry is just a capsule there to keep the whole meal together," Grant admits. "[But] my pastry recipe is my Mom's recipe and it's killer."

Matt Grant pasty

From Grant's signature list: his "Back Bacon and Cheese" pasty. (gbpastyandpie.ca)


Grant explains that the delicious pockets of pastry and savoury filling have been around since the Middle Ages and were made famous by Cornish miners.

"It's like a semi-circle with a crimp around the edge and the miners would hold that when they eat the pasty because they're mining for tin and when you're mining tin there's arsenic present," Grant explains.

"They would eat that and then they would throw the crusts into the mine to appease the 'Tommy Knockers.'" 

"Knockers" are mythical creatures believed to knock on the walls of the mine and trigger cave-ins.

Grant says he is already experimenting with a new top-secret recipe worthy of his title. 

"Of course, I'm not going to let the cat out of the bag yet," Grant says. "It's going to be great that's for sure!"