CHARACTER OF K’ ROAD – CHAMNAN LY
THE PIEFEE CREATOR
Best known as the creator of the extraordinarily delicious Piefee, Chamnan Ly also shone
at latte art last year, representing NZ in Sydney at a global latte art competition.
We visited Chamnan at the Tasteful Bakehouse and Café to hear about his successes and
his business on the street….
How long have you had a business on K’ Road?
My wife (Chankanha Kong) and I have been here since 2007. We wanted to start our own
business and found this place. We’ve stayed because we like it here. The locals are really
welcoming. People think K’ Road is a big busy area but it is actually like a small
community. Everyone knows everyone once you’ve been here long enough.
What do you offer?
Homemade food - pies, sandwiches, cakes, slices, donuts, chicken and chips. And our
How did the piefee come about?
I’ve always loved making the pies. Two years ago, I chucked some coffee into custard pie
cups and called it a piefee – half coffee, half pie. It was a random idea I then put it on
social media. A few people came in and asked for it - then more people came. It went
viral and I started getting a lot of media attention locally and around the world.
That was two years ago and we are still busy selling piefees. Only in December the AM
show came to introduce piefee to their audience. People like to put photos on social
media of themselves eating it. We get tourists who’ve been told to come and try the
piefee. So a random idea, maybe a bit silly, has come to be something.
You’re also into latte art?
Yes, it started with the piefee and realised I liked making latte art so I started doing to
normal coffees. Before that most of our coffee orders were takeaways so we weren’t
thinking about the art side. Initially I was not that good but I learned by watching others
on Instagram, then trying to do something different.
And ended up competing for New Zealand!
Yes, it was the Almond Breeze Latte Art Video Challenge. I won the NZ competition and a
five country competition (NZ, Australia, Japan, South Africa England). Then I competed at
the Breezey Masters Latte Art International grand final in Sydney. We had to do four
patterns - heart, rosette, swan and tulip and then freestyle – in a minute so it was very
Free style or freeform art is a new technique everyone is going crazy about. It’s using the
last of the milk foam to draw, instead of using a latte pen to draw.
I was really proud of my success at my first competition attempt. Hopefully I can push
myself to do better next time.
You use social media a lot?
Yes, I work a lot on our Facebook and Instagram pages. I post once or twice every day -
not just about the piefee but all our products, especially our pies.
If I didn’t play with social media, there wouldn’t be a piefee because that is how people
saw it and decided to try it. New products can spread quickly so it is free marketing and
very good for business. But you have to keep coming up with new things to keep
What drives you?
I’m responsible for what I do and I like it - that keeps me getting up at 4am to start at
5am each weekday morning. I couldn’t get up that early if I didn’t like baking. And our
customers. Lots of locals come in and buy and chat each day. I’d say 80-90% of our
customers are repeat customers.
I like being creative around food and trying new things. I’ve made a few different piefees
now. The first one was standard sweet pastry but we now have oriel, Belgium and
gingerbread too. I tried cinnamon cups and afghan cups but it was too much to manage
so we just do the four most popular.
I always wanted to make something that belongs to me - and now have my piefee. Yet it
was so random.
You work closely with Kanha, your wife?
Yes we have worked together from when she graduated from her travel and tourism
degree. We both had to learn to multi task at baking and making coffee because there
was only two of us. I’m the better pie maker and Kanha is the better coffee maker.
However I had to really concentrate on my coffee making once I started the piefees so my
coffee is pretty good too now.
There was no planning with the piefee, it just turned up. So one day something else may
How has K’ Road changed over the 12 years?
There’s been a lot more fancy shops coming in and more residents because big
apartments keep opening up. The street becoming more upmarket is a good thing for us
because it brings in more customers. Even so, I think we still have a sense of community.
It is also getting more competitive on K’ Road. We have seen a lot of shops come and go
over the years. When a new food place opens it always makes a bit of an impact on us,
but after a few weeks our numbers come back to normal.
Favourite place on K’ Road?
Sri Pinang across the road. Angie will drop off food if we’re too busy to get across. I love
her food and she’s such a nice lady who has been here a long time.
How is the future looking for you?
We were planning to stay five years and we’ve been here for 12, so I feel we’re here for a
Personally, I wish to become a really good barista and enter more latte art competitions
and perfect my free form technique.