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A labor of love for a Corvallis couple has grown into a full-fledged business – the Great Australian Meat Pie Company.

Ian Tooth was looking for a taste of his homeland and his fiancée, Tammy Bailey, was eager to help.

“This all came about because Ian was complaining he couldn’t find a good meat pie in this area. I said, ‘OK, give me some recipes.’ I made some meat pies and they were disgusting. So we worked and we worked and we worked until we got it right,” Bailey said.

She wanted the pies to be authentic, but many of the recipes were too Americanized for Tooth’s liking.

“I grew up with these things, so I know what they should taste like,” Tooth said.

Once the recipes were perfected, the couple decided to share the food with the public. After all, no one else in the mid-Willamette Valley was offering authentic Australian meat pies.

The Great Australian Meat Pie Company is a food cart that operates out of the lobby of the Benton Plaza in downtown Corvallis. There is a small seating section.

Tooth and Bailey are considering opening up a coffee cart in the same location, and things have been going so well they also thinking about expanding the meat pie business.

For Tooth, the Australian meat pie is a versatile workingman’s food, substantial, packed with protein, and able to be used as a sit down dining option or, more typically, grabbed and eaten on the go. “They’re meant to eat on the run, driving, or riding the bus,” Tooth said.

“For the value of what’s in here, you can’t beat it,” he added.

So far, the beef, potato and cheese option is the most popular item for the food cart.

“The sausage rolls are very popular, as well,” Tooth said.

There also are vegetarian and vegan pies at the Great Australian Meat Pie Company, and the business also will introduce fruit-filled pastries soon.

Drink options include a taste of Australia with Bundaberg ginger beer or root beer, and for dessert, patrons can order a Lamington, a vanilla sponge cake dipped in chocolate and rolled in coconut.

Tooth grew up in Redhead, just south of Newcastle. The town is small but famous for its 9-mile long sandy beach.

He also served in the Australian Air Force for 20 years before coming to the United States. Every day, Tooth wears his “digger’s hat” from his enlisted time. Those distinctive lids, with an upturned brim on one side, became part of military wear in Australia after gold diggers who wore them joined the fight in World War I.

With Oregon State University, Corvallis draws in Australians, and those have helped put his business on the map. Aussies at OSU have brought their friends along to have a taste of their homeland, Tooth said.

The Great Australian Meat Pie Company, 408 SW Monroe Ave., is open from 11 a.m. until they sell out of pies or until 7 p.m. on Monday through Friday, and from 8:30 a.m. until they sell out on Saturday.

Pies are $1 off and sausage rolls are 50 cents off during the happy hour, which is after 4:30 p.m.

The business also can handle large orders for local companies or parties. One week’s notice is required for large orders.

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Reporter Bennett Hall contributed to this story. Kyle Odegard can be reached at kyle.odegard@lee.net, 541-812-6077 or via Twitter @KyleOdegard.

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Business Reporter