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The Pieminister

After travelling around Australia in their early twenties, eating pies every day, Tristan and Jon returned home determined to reinvigorate the humble British pie. Here is their story, plus some recipes and a chance to win a copy of their new book.

Congratulations on opening your new restaurant at Westgate Street, how excited are you to bring Pieminister to Bath? 

 

As an independent West Country family business we’ve always felt like Bath is practically home. We know the city has a huge cohort of passionate pie lovers with excellent taste, so it’s just been a matter of waiting for the right position in the city to become available! And Westgate street is perfect; it’s lively and surrounded by cultural, creative venues like Komedia, the Theatre Royal….we’re perfectly located for pre-performance pies!

 

Tell us a little bit about how you both met, your love of pies and how Pieminister started. 

 

We’re brother in laws (Jon met his now wife Romany at University). She introduced Jon to her little brother Tristan!  We both travelled around Australia in our 20’s, eating loads of pies, which there (unlike the UK at the time) were really good and enjoyed by everyone from surfers, to cricket fans to skaters. We decided to bring a bit of that magic back to the West Country and revive the great British pie. So we took over an old printworks on Stokes Croft, Bristol Tris did the pie making and Jon did the marketing and selling. And the rest, as they say, is history.

I understand you sold 5 pies on your first day of trading?

 

It’s come a long way since then…yes, it’s 20 years since we acquired an old print works on stokes croft in Bristol and turned it into a little pie shop and bakery.  Custom slowly but surely picked up as word spread, but it was Glastonbury in June 2004 that propelled us forward.  We had queues throughout the festival and had to get two more deliveries of pies on site as we kept selling out.  From that weekend onwards, the word was out and a Pieminister pie with mash, gravy, peas, cheese and shallots (AKA the Mothership) became a legendary feast.  We’ve never looked back (and the Mothership – available in Bath -  is still our best selling pie feast)

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So what makes a great pie? 

 

It’s simple; if you make a fantastic casserole using the best ingredients you can find and cook it low and slow, then encase it in a really good pastry, you have a good pie.  It really is that simple! (It’s just that lots of the pies on the market aren’t made using the best ingredients….)

 

Pieminister are also a certified B Corporation, which means you meet the highest standards of social and environmental impact. How important is this to you? 

 

It’s something that we’ve always cared about (we’ve always used reusable pie tins for example, rather than single use foils.  And we have used free range British meat since we started in 2003.  And we’ve always given away any wonky pies to food banks. But in recent years we’ve really upped our game, setting a series of goals to hit by 2025.  They’re really ambitious for a business of our size so it’s really focused our minds!

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What does this entail?

 

We’re on set to be carbon neutral by the end of the year, we’ve made all of our retail packaging fully and easily recyclable, we sent almost zero waste to landfill and we donate around 100,000 pies to FareShare SouthWest and other good causes every year. We’re also committed to using deforestation free ingredients and we have taken our animal welfare commitment even further this year, moving over entirely to slow growing birds.  While working to increase the number of vegan pies we sell.

 

You have some great names for your pies; Tikka to Ride, Fungi Chicken, Mollin Rouge to name a few. Who comes up with the names and how does the process work for creating a new pie?

 

Tristan Hogg started it when he came up with the name Pieminister! and we curse him constantly for it as we sometimes we completely run out of pun inspiration.  Infact, we’re working on a vegan version of our Moo and Blue (steak and stilton) pie at the moment and we cannot think of a name.  Its working title is Mooless & Clueless and we’re reaching the point where we give up and this working title becomes the actual title (problem is it’s too long to fit on a box!).

"We’re on set to be carbon neutral by the end of the year, we’ve made all of our retail packaging fully and easily recyclable, we sent almost zero waste to landfill and we donate around 100,000 pies to FareShare SouthWest and other good causes every year."

Tell us about your new book.

 

It’s been over 10 years since we wrote our first (and only other) cookbook and this one’s a reflection on how our family business has evolved since then, particularly in terms of sustainability.  It’s packed with over 75 recipes, from plant based and gluten free ones to sweet ones, to others requiring high welfare, sustainably farmed meat.  And among the recipes are features where we share what we’ve learned over the years about sustainable cooking and eating in a way that we hope demystifies some of the more complicated issues and suggests attainable steps to take that make a big difference.  We also worked with some amazing people doing interesting things in the food world, from foragers and gleaners to regenerative farmers.  But above all it’s fun, and the recipes are delicious.

 

You are also at Toppings & Co this month. What can those lucky enough to attend expect from the evening? 

 

We (Jon Simon and Tristan Hogg) will be talking a bit about the book and what it’s been like to run a independent family business for 20 years, and we’ll be bringing along some of the more moveable feasts from the book for people to try.

Win

a copy of 'Live, Eat and Pie' by Pieminister 

(Tristan Hogg and Jon Simon) On sale: 2nd March 2023 by Kyle Books. RRP: £ 22.00

Buy a copy of 'Live, Eat and Pie' by Pieminister  (Tristan Hogg and Jon Simon) On sale: 2nd March 2023 by Kyle Books. RRP: £ 22.00

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