There is no hyperbole when talking about a good, solid pie. And what with it being cold, and bleak – although TODAY is shining bright – it’s still February and thus I want something that is the food equivalent of a slanket. My mind immediately turns to pie and mash. It always does. I look to my bike and still sodden boots, and often wish for the Star Trek food dispenser or perhaps pie delivery service. However, potentially that would spiral of course. But I do so love PIE! Gaining huge respect for their decision, our friends are having Pieminister pies for their Wedding day banquet. And a cheese Wedding cake. Obviously this is extremely exciting. Pieminister pie, with all its crumbly pastry and heavenly goo, has to be one of the best taste and belly sensations for a human. Also, cheese is like eating slices of the moon. I’m hoping they consider a recently contributed idea of sticky toffee pudding whipped in there somewhere. Can you imagine that whole meal?
When we first moved to Bristol we had a Pieminister pretty much every weekend. Once hitting three pies in one week. Previously we had only ever experienced them at festivals, queuing up for minutes upon minutes for that cardboard box, filled with soul regaining joy. They have that wholesome, homemade gorgeousness about them.
Down the road. St Nicks Pie Shop.
Pieminister was first born in 2003 and has since gone from strength to mighty strength, becoming a famous and important meal for every visitor checking out anywhere in a 20 mile radius of an outlet. One particularly blustery day last week, I was musing over pies and such and decided that frankly, I really wanted to know more about these pies and pie business. So I caught up with Jon Simon, the Managing Director of Pieminister and asked him some questions:
Mr Simon. (Sadly no, those pies weren’t for me. They were for The Telegraph. One day.)
When did you first decide to open up Pieminister?
When I was travelling around Australia during a work placement, I was at Nottingham university (making didgeridoos) I found a place called Harry de’ wheels in Wallamaloo in Sydney. It was serving pies with a dollop of mash and mushy peas on top with a ladle of gravy poured on top. I thought it was great and would work brilliantly on the streets of London. After that, I held on to the idea for eight years while I started a different business owning bars in London. In 2003 I felt it was the right time to move on and do something different and open a pie and mash shop in Bristol.
What are the principles you work to?
Enjoy it all… Remember its only work and if it isn’t working out, then move on and do something different. Give it your best shot and hope for the best.
Silver. How I expect my pie to arrive at my friend’s Wedding.
Have you been surprised at your success?
Everything has been moving so fast and we are always doing different things so I don’t have much chance to get complacement. Every few months we start something new so it always feels like a challenge and are never sure it will succeed. Overall things seem to be going well and people seem to like what we do. Which does make me feel like its all worth while. Perhaps it’s my insecurity that I need to feel that I am pleasing people to make me happy!
And at festivals?
The pies go down a storm at festivals. Having been a avid festival goer for some time now, I know what a relief it is if you can get a good meal that can keep you going throughout the day and night.. I think we were a welcome relief to noodles and burgers. I think it also taps into the psyche of the average festival goer with free range ingredients, ethical sourcing, recyclable packaging and a good feed for around a fiver.
What do you think has made you so successful?
Good teeth and a winning smile.
What’s the secret to your pies?
Never compromise on quality. Insure that the original integrity that we built into our pies remains intact. We set out to make the best pies we could, we did that and continue to do so, only on a bigger scale.
What do you love about Bristol?
It’s a great place to be in the food industry, there are loads of great suppliers on our doorstep. It is also great now I have got small children. We go camping lots over the summer and there are plenty of places within a hours drive. Its also great to get to London and back which I need to every week or so. Not to mention the great pubs, great cider and a great art scene (I like my art!).
What do you have planned for Pieminister?
Keep employing great people, keep having fun, keep doing new things and keep growing.
Any new flavours coming up?
We have a great pie coming out for the Royal wedding. We have some sweet pies coming out and lots of other stuff in development.
Royal and nearly Royal. Ahhhh.
What’s your favourite pie?
My dad’s steak and kidney.. Annoyingly he can make a better one than me and he knows it. He keeps making the point by making it for me at every opportunity. Very primal I know, but hey!
What dessert would you team with a pie for tea?
Westcombe cheddar cheese with my wife’s home made chutney on a digestive biscuit… washed down with an apple brandy. Then a good nap.
Mine. Yours. Belly’s.
I remember V.E. Day, when I was but a child. We (previously unspoken to parent/adult neighbours) all went and played rounders etc. on our garden and ate loads of snacks. The bunting was festooned everywhere and there was happiness in the street. Those were the days of playing on your bike ’til it got dark EVERYday. And when snakes ruled the ponds. Pieminsiter believe in Street Parties and encourage them. They even have street party plans on their site. See here for more details.