Mud wins Aldi’s Next Big Thing.
When Christian Barrington of Mud Foods in Midhurst, said “yes” to appearing on Channel 4’s Aldi’s Next Big Thing, he had no idea what was in store for him and his beloved pies.
Aldi’s Next Big Thing is a cross between Dragons’ Den and Bake Off, with the prize being the opportunity to sell your product on the shelves of national supermarket, Aldi.
Christian slowly made his way through the application process, beating over 300 others for the chance to pit his pies against the best of Britain’s food producers. After various phone calls, zoom interviews and on-site inspections at the bakery, at last he found himself as one of 6 contestants in the ‘dinners’ category, competing for their product to be Aldi’s Next Big Thing.
Christian was invited up to Aldi HQ in Tamworth, where they had a big development kitchen alongside their own TV studio, which was set up a bit like the Bake Off tent! It was very daunting and Christian was a bag of nerves but the whole experience turned out to be great fun.
“The team of professionals at the production company, South Shore TV, and presenters Anita Rani of Countryfile and BBC Radio 4, Chris Bavin of Britain’s Best Home Cook and Eat Well for Less, and Julie Ashfield, Managing Director of Buying at Aldi UK were all really warm, supportive and kind - everyone wanting you to do well. They made it an enjoyable experience, putting me at ease and everyone else too. It was so different from what I do day in day out, and seeing what goes on behind the scenes when they make a television programme was fascinating. It was brilliant being part of that.”
Although Mud Foods makes all the old favourites, such as Steak and Ale and Chicken, Ham and Leek, they also have some pretty quirky varieties. Christian decided to enter his unique Chip Shop Chicken Curry Pie into the competition, a recipe containing succulent free-range chicken in a mild, sweet curry sauce, infused with fresh ginger, chilli and coriander for a rich flavour.
“This pie was inspired by the curry sauce I used to buy at my local chippy when I was a boy, it has an incredibly moreish taste - once tasted, never forgotten!”
Mud Foods is a family business and the production team were keen to come to Midhurst and film with Christian’s wife Toni and two daughters, Emelia and Liberty, at a weekend farmers’ market;
and behind the scenes at the bakery, including his in-laws, Heather and Colin, who’ve been working at Mud since day one. There was a lot of nervous anticipation and excitement and, again, the crew were really professional, friendly and positive; the filming went smoothly and great fun was had by all.
Mud Foods is a family business founded on its core principles of sustainably sourcing the finest local ingredients and delighting customers with that authentic homemade taste. It’s the unwavering attention to detail and quality that has pie-fection baked into every pie.
“Our pies are amazing from the outside in. For 13 years, I’ve been hunting down the finest quality ingredients, from organic meat and milk to local and seasonal ingredients. From the first bite, you can tell there are no shortcuts and only butter will do for our golden shortcrust pastry. It’s this honest and uncompromising attention that delivers the complete pie experience.”
Then it was back to Aldi HQ for the big reveal, to find out who would win and become Aldi’s Next Big Thing. It was between Christian of Mud Foods and Mandira of Mandira’s Kitchen, who makes Indian food for her catering and online business.
“Mandira was a lovely person and so deserving. I had an element of mixed feelings – wanting to win but also wanting her to win. I was absolutely convinced she would beat me anyway, she’s articulate, really composed and had outstanding products taste-wise, so when they called out Mud had won I was genuinely in a state of shock. I had wobbly legs! It was a moment of absolute disbelief but once it had sunk in it was pure joy and elation.”
"When I first started making pies back in 2009, I could never have dreamed of the demand that would follow and the queues of customers appreciating the supreme quality that we have now become well-known for."