If you’ve been in the shop, chances are you’ve met Miranda, the smiling face of Muddy Boots.
She’s in the shop, most days – and when she isn’t she’s in the back or at the factory, cutting down joints and developing recipes with the team. Or perhaps researching and writing her next cookbook, making up new recipes and putting her spin on old classics to share with the world. She’s a busy bee, but is always ready to greet customers with a smile and offer them help in way they need it.
So we thought it was time you got to know her a bit better, and get a peek into the past and future of Muddy Boots. We’ve pooled together a few FAQ’s we get a lot in the shop, and sat her down to answer them, for you. We hope you enjoy!
Why meat – what lead you to start Muddy Boots?
My father-in-law is a beef farmer and he had the most incredible herd of pedigree Aberdeen Angus cattle. Roland and I were at the farm on a weekend out of London and we were talking about the beef. There were a lot of exciting brands in food at the time – Innocent, Gü and Tyrrells (just down the road from us in Herefordshire) – and we realised that there wasn’t a brand promoting this calibre of British meat in, in particular, popular meats such as burgers and meatballs.
What did you do before you started Muddy Boots?
I was Sir David Frost’s PA for five years, which was a very cool job to have in my 20s. As well as mingling with lots of celebs, I learnt a huge amount from one of the most inspiring people I have ever met.
Is it weird being a girl in meat?
Yes. It seems weirder for other people than it does myself. I think it’s a bonus and it has a value. I’m certainly not for everyone but if I can reach someone who might not have been interested in meat and farming otherwise, then that’s a real value. Butchers and slaughtermen are the funniest about it.
What is your favourite meat to work with?
Beef. I love cutting beef the most because it’s so big and so satisfying. I like fiddly chickens at the other end of the scale but there is a great sense of achievement to start with a side of beef and turn it into joints.
What is your favourite cut to eat?
Fillet steak. You put everything on the long-term dream when you start your own business, you have more pressure and less salary than you’ve ever imagined… but I do get to eat fillet steak. So it’s totally worth it.
Miranda regularly contributes to articles both online and in the press offering advice and sharing her experience as a start-up business owner. She recently participated in the SheerLuxe Entrepreneurs of Tomorrow talk which you can watch here.
Whats your favourite part of running Muddy Boots?
Having conversations about meat. Nobody really talks about it, unless there’s a media scandal or an earnest campaign. I don’t mind either of those but I love that Muddy Boots is a brand and now a shop where we’ll have a conversation about meat – whatever someone wants to ask – any day. No sensationalism, just rational, qualified conversation about what constitutes good meat.
What has been the most challenging part of running a small business?
The pressure never stops. We have a shop that’s open 84 hours a week, a factory that does 14 hour days, we have 12 people to pay before we pay ourselves and we have products with just 5-10 day’s shelf life so if we don’t sell them, they cost us much more in waste. We picked a really challenging business to try but we’ve still never looked back.
What is it like working with your husband?
I love it. Thankfully we work really well together. The Guardian really kindly let me write about it last month, which explains more about what it’s like – you can read it over here.
What ONE piece of advice would you give to anyone wanting to get into meat as a career?
Go and work in meat. Get as much work experience as you can on farms, then abattoirs, then cutting plants. You need to experience every single stage of it. It’s why I’m most proud that the publishers commissioned the entire first half of the book to be a study into meat… there are as many pages about meat and farming as there are recipes. You need this same balance if you want to be good at meat.
In case you missed it, Miranda’s new book MODERN MEAT KITCHEN is out now. We wrote a bit about that here on the blog last week.
Where do you find time to do things like write books?
I have a very, very good team in the shop and Roland runs the factory, the team there, the logistics and the finances. I was able to take the time to write it at the start of last year because I’m lucky to have a team off staff whom I trust to run the shop. I also used the weekends to make all the recipes in the back and very willing customers to be my taste testers! I’d appear with a haggis or a slow cooked pork shoulder and ask people if they’d please eat it!
Which recipes did you enjoy most in the new book?
I love that there’s a theme to the recipes which is when to use them. For example, ‘Weeknight Suppers’ and ‘Slow-Cooking’ are two of the chapters, rather than filing them by meat category. So there’s Rogan Josh, which takes less than 10mins for a weeknight supper, and later a slow-cooked lamb shoulder in whisky that was four hours. The slow recipes have a connected ‘leftover recipe’ as well to use it all up. That’s the idea with the ‘Modern’ part of the title – being aware of how to get the most out of the cost of meat and the way we use it in our modern, busy lives.
What do you enjoy doing outside of Muddy Boots?
There are only two places where Roland and I are capable of switching off from the business and that’s the gym and going to the cinema so it’s very important that we try to do those as much as possible.
Who are your mentors – both in food and in general?
Sir David Frost was the most incredible boss I could have had, I owe him a huge amount. In meat, it’s my father-in-law John because he showed us how the farm worked and he gets an even bigger buzz from selling really good meat than I do!
What would you eat at your last meal?
Fillet steak with sweet potato wedges and griddled asparagus and then my bodyweight in chocolate ice cream.
Long term – What is next for Miranda & Muddy Boots? Where do you see the business in 5 / 10 years?
We’re looking for our second shop now and hope to open a third towards the end of next year too. The dream is to keep opening shops and really having some fun with modern meat retail. I hope that Waitrose and Ocado will continue to be really cool companies for us to supply and our contracts with them will keep growing too. And most of all, I’d like to keep having lots of conversations about meat with anyone who’ll have them with me!
Do you have a burning question you’d like to ask Miranda? Pop it in the comments below and she’ll be happy to answer it! You can also find her on Twitter!