Page last updated at 17:39 GMT, Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Pie tasters secure panel places

Holland's pie tasters
The new panel was selected after blindfolded tasting sessions

Pie lovers from across the world were among those who applied for a place on a tasting panel at a famous Lancashire pie maker.

Holland's, which is based in Baxenden, last month began a search for volunteers to help sample its pies - and help create new products.

The firm had interest from New York, Islamabad and Norway - but settled on 15 people from England's North West.

The final 15 were selected after blindfolded tasting sessions last week.

Sixty shortlisted contestants took part in the sessions, before the "very best" were selected for the panel.

I'm really excited
Michelle Sigley, pie taster

They will be invited to a series of specially arranged pie-tasting sessions to review every recipe and offer their opinions.

Neil Court-Johnston, managing director, said: "We've been amazed by the strength of feeling about our pies."

Michelle Sigley, 24, from Manchester, achieved top marks in the testing and said she "absolutely loved" the experience.

"I'm really excited. I always wanted the opportunity to influence food in some way and the great British pie seems like the perfect place to start."

Holland's employs about 380 people and is part of the chilled division of Northern Foods.

The company has been making pies, puddings and pasties since 1851 and produces about one million a week.

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