Obituary: Saroun Lach, Master Pie Maker

From last weekend's edition of the Dominion Post here in Wellington, NZ:

In 1987, Saroun Lach was one of 50 or so Cambodian refugees on a plane from Thailand, headed for New Zealand.
Mr Lach became New Zealand's champion pie maker, several times over. The walls of his Wellington Elite Cafe and Bakery in Victoria St provide a gallery for 30 framed awards, stretching back to 2000, the year he became a pie maker.

As a boy, he had been a top scholar. In New Zealand, he became first a wool sorter and later a taxi driver. Mr Lach had a fondness for a daily pie, but was very critical of many he ate, comparing one with another, and thinking that the best were few and far between.

When a bakery shop came up for sale in Alicetown, at the urging of his mother-in-law he bought it. He won Bakel's Supreme Piemaker of New Zealand, a title he would win again, along with many others. His steak, mince and cheese pies became a rapid urban legend.

He loved music, movies and his family.

He was considered a role model of industry and good citizenship in the Buddhist community. Paying tribute to him, his brother-in-law said his love would be "the roof above our heads to shelter us from storms to come".

In other words, Mr Lach will be tending that big crimped and fluted pie top in the sky.

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