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Last Updated: Tuesday, 10 May, 2005, 12:25 GMT 13:25 UK
Family pie-maker marks 50 years
Dennis Dutch and some of the famous pies
Dennis Dutch has been making pies for 50 years
A pie-maker who holds the secret to one of Cardiff's best loved food specialities has celebrated 50 years of baking the famous Clarks Pie.

Dennis Dutch opened his Grangetown pie shop in 1955 at the age of 24 after working in his mother Winifred's Cowbridge Road East shop.

Dennis is the grandson of Mary Clark, who had perfected the recipe of her namesake pie in 1909.

And since opening his shop he has baked millions of the meat pies.

The pies have entered Cardiff folklore and they are often quoted to demonstrate the city's 'Kairdiff' accent - the dialect accentuating the hard sounding 'a'.

"My grandmother first started baking the pies in Llanmaes Street in 1909, then my parents opened the Cowbridge Road East shop during the war," said 74-year-old Dennis Dutch.

"Of course meat was on ration then, so the Llanmaes Street shop closed in 1941."

Dennis, who left school at the age of 14 to work in his parents' shop, began to dream about opening his own shop, and by the age of 24, after completing National Service, had saved enough money to buy the premises in Bromsgrove Street - just two streets from his grandmother's establishment.

"I came here in 1955 and to be honest on the day of opening I had no idea whether we were going to fail or not so we only baked a few pies for the opening day," he said.

Freddy Rosoman eating a Clarks Pie
Freddy Rosoman eating a pie made in his grandfather's bakery

"But on the actual opening day, we were greeted by a queue of people waiting to buy a pie so we had to quickly bake some more".

The "Clarksie", which is still made in the Cowbridge Road East and Bromsgrove Street shops, is known for its thick pastry and meat filling.

Dennis' daughter Amanda Rosoman now works in the shop with her father and 13 staff.

"People love them - I remember one man came down from London for the day for a football match and had a Clarks pie."

Dennis Dutch and Frank Hennessy
I think I was weaned on the Clarks Pie - it's unique and absolutely fantastic
Frank Hennessy, radio presenter and pie lover

"He called us up the next day asking if we delivered to London, so I found a refrigerated courier service and sent him the 40 pies he asked for - the delivery cost more than the pies but he still wanted them!

Customers include Cardiff City FC and people in Spain, Australia and South Africa.

BBC Wales radio presenter Frank Hennessy, who attended the 50th anniversary party, described it as an "institution".

"The theory has it that the design of Cardiff's Millennium Stadium was based on the Clarks Pie - because if you stick four cocktail sticks into the pie it does look like the stadium with the roof closed," he added.

So what is it about the recipe for the pie that people love?

"That's a secret," smiled Dennis.




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