Mud…where it all began.
In 2006 Christian, Mud’s Chief Pie Maker, decided to turn his back on his career as a financial advisor. He was unable to see his future in the world of banking, so decided to follow his passion for cooking, initially opening an organic café in Chichester.
The café was a great success - serving organic, freshly prepared food. However, a change in shopping and buying habits meant the café took a hit so Christian turned his attention to the local Chichester Farmers’ Market and he decided to start making pies to sell there every couple of weeks, also seeing this as an opportunity to promote the café.
During Christian’s childhood at family gatherings, his grandmother would make her signature dish of steak and kidney pie. This left a big impression on him and Christian decided to re-create these delicious pies.
He wanted the pies to be different and for them to be made with the quality and attention to detail as if they were made at home, also understanding that locally sourced, quality ingredients were important to people.
Christian continued to run the café but, unable to keep up with demand for the pies, he would work through the night to make enough pies for the farmers’ markets.
One of the great secrets of success is Christian’s legendary butter-rich pastry, and he gets comments all the time from customers about how crisp and delicious the pastry is. Together with locally sourced, quality ingredients, these are the keys to the success of Mud.
With the success of the pies now firmly established, the decision was made to close the café and investment was made in a small industrial unit in Chichester. By this time, the pies were also being sold at Midhurst and Petworth Farmers’ Markets and soon after also at Winchester.
Christian would set up and sell out by 10am, so the next week he would make more and sell out by 10.30am with queues of people wanting to buy his pies.
Still unable to keep up with demand, Christian continued to work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, either making pies or selling them. He was assisted when possible by his wife Toni, who was herself studying to be a Midwife.
In 2012, Christian and Toni welcomed their first daughter, Emelia. Toni says that if she hadn’t taken baby Emelia to the Farmers’ Markets, Christian would not have seen his daughter during the first year of her life.
The business, now known as Mud Pies, outgrew the unit in Chichester within 6 months. Christian invested every penny he made in buying new cooking equipment, often travelling around the country in any spare time he had, to buy it second hand.
Now based in a new unit in Midhurst, where Mud Foods, still is today, Christian was joined by one other member of staff, together with occasional help from his in-laws. From the day they moved into the new unit, they were set up and ready to make pies that same evening.
Mud now employs 12 members of staff so Christian no longer has to work through the night. Toni now has a career as a local Midwife and they have a second daughter, Liberty. Mud continues to support local Farmers’ Markets and more often than not you will see Christian at a lot of these events.
Mud’s varieties include, steak and ale, chicken ham and leek, squash spinach and feta and even a vegan pie. They can be bought in many outlets and it is possible to enjoy them anywhere from the British Library to a farm shop near you.