Posted 24th May 2017
Have you heard of Piglets Pantry? The British start up only uses local, British produce and has hand made pies for thousands of football fans at each Brighton and Hove football match. We talk to them to find out how they perfected their recipe, more about their campaign for better quality produce that will support local businesses and a higher quality product, and more
Like most small businesses, I decided to stand on my own two feet after becoming disillusioned with the 9-5. Corporate life severely affected my physical health which inspired me to introduce some big life changes. I began my journey by opening a small bakery in Shoreham to test the local appetite and we’ve now reached our 6th year in business since opening our doors in April 2011.
I’ve always been an avid Brighton football fan and visited the stadium six years ago when it was first being developed. Fate struck when I began conversation with the Operations Director who said they wanted the stadium to have a strong community feel – right down to the food they served to fans. They’d begun conversations with other mainstream providers, however were struggling to find the quality and ‘home baked’ feel that they felt their fans deserved.
We were thrilled to be invited to start serving our pies at the stadium and we began speaking to local fans to get their thoughts before we even touched a scrap of pastry. We found that there was real appetite for local produce, in particular Harveys’ ale which is where our popular steak and ale was born.
Taste aside, the pie had to be practical and structurally sound without the need of cutlery. This required fifteen months of quality testing the thickness of our gravy to ensure all football shirts remined pristine throughout the season. We then tested the re-heating process at every stadium to ensure freshness and to retain pastry crispness.
Our actual recipe is top secret however I can let you know that a butter shortcrust and a puff pastry lid form the robust, tasty vehicle to carry our pie fillings.
The Piglets Pantry ethos to this day is to use only quality, local produce and to know the supply chain of each ingredient. We support the local economy by only buying seasonal British produce where possible. All our fillings are made from scratch, with fresh ingredients using the traditional methods handed down through generations.
We began day one with 2,000 pies which sold out before kickoff. By the second and third game there were increased volumes of pies across the stadium, even satisfying the clamour from avid fans in the hospitality section. This time we prepared 5,000 which again sold out before kickoff and there were stampedes down to our kiosks. We then scaled up to 7,500 which sold out before half time which meant we increased our production to 10,000 pies per game. We were still hand crimping every pie which took about a week to plan and prepare so I was definitely dreaming of pies!
Since our Brighton roots, we’ve spread our pastry wings to the likes of Tottenham, Leicester and Chelsea football stadiums. I’ve noticed a real shift in consumer tastes, fans love seasonal specials such as our red Leicester sausage rolls and there’s even been an increase in our vegetarian options which account for around 5% of pies sold per game.
I strongly believe you can provide a quality product in volume in a football environment. I want to remove the perception that fans won’t pay for great food, clubs should never underestimate the power of the people coming through their gates. Fans pay a premium for their tickets and deserve to be treated to the best products available.
To have your say, take part in the Coral Pie Premier League.