Synonymous with provenance and quality, Mr C’s Hand-Crafted Pies continue to enjoy a growing international reputation, with demand from overseas creating fresh opportunities for growth in 2018.
With distinguished customers such as Fortnum & Mason and Gleneagles Hotel, Mr C’s has become a byword for exceptional quality and taste. Nothing but the best Scottish ingredients go into their pies.
“Our pork comes from Ramsay of Carluke – all outdoor bred female pigs, because quality means everything,” explains Robert Corrigan, founder and owner of Mr C’s Pies. “Our venison comes from Dundee, through Highland Game, while all our game birds come from either Ochill Foods or Braehead Foods, but either way from Scottish estates. I’m also dealing with a butcher, O’Shea’s, who is based just a few minutes from Gleneagles in Auchterarder. Not only am I making pies for him, but I’m also sourcing his high quality free range pork.”
It’s clearly a recipe for success as Robert gets to grips with meeting orders for more than 17,000 pies in the lead up to Christmas.
“This will be my fifth Christmas with Fortnum & Mason,” adds Robert, who took the intiative and tweeted Fortnum’s CEO back in 2012, suggesting the famed London purveyor of fine food stock Mr C’s Pies. “The relationship took 18 months to cement, but it has led to a range of bespoke lines, including our large 1.35kg Game Pie with Cranberry Topping, which goes into Fortnum & Mason’s Imperial Hamper.
“We also supply Fortnum’s with a duck and foie gras pie, which goes on sale in late October and finishes in January. Our seasonal game range also includes a smoked pheasant pie.”
Pork pies, as well as chicken and ham staples, remain on sale throughout the year, while summer season lines such as Mr C’s award-winning Smoked Salmon and Charcuterie Pie go off sale during winter. It’s all part of Robert’s absolute commitment to quality that sees the baker source organic flour from Shipton Mill, while making his own recipe jelly and pastry.
“We use Italian lard, as it melts in your mouth at 32.5°C,” explains Robert. “Cheaper lard melts at about 39°C, which is why, when you buy cheap pies, made with cheap pastry, the grease effectively coats the inside of your mouth destroying the flavour of the pie itself. Italian lard might be more expensive, but the result is a much better quality product.”
Originally trained as a chef, Robert spent more than 25 years working in the international hotel industry, during which he opened two hotels in Nigeria. Robert has also managed hotels in Brighton and closer to home in the Isle of Lewis.
However, it wasn’t until 2008 that Robert returned to first love – baking. “ I started to supply the Hopetoun Estate farm shop while working from my home kitchen, before winning my first Gold award for the first pie I entered in a competition, in 2011.
“It was a pork smoked pancetta and leek pie, and the award opened the door to supplying Donald Russell in Inverurie. I’ve been supplying them ever since and it’s the reason I relocated my operation to Perthshire. By the end of October 2017, we will have delivered in the region of 100,000 pies to that one customer!”
Robert is also seeking to enter the corporate catering market, as well as expanding into overseas markets. “I recently spent two days at Showcasing Scotland at Gleneagles, talking to people from Germany. Samples of my Salmon with Smoked Seafood Charcuterie Pie have also gone to Singapore to help test the market,” adds Robert. “Due to their quality, our pies are ideal for freezing, making them suitable for export.” In the past two months, the business has also started to supply the Caledonian Sleeper train service.
Robert’s pies have even become stars in their own right. Mr C’s has supplied BBC productions such as EastEnders, Garrow’s Law and more recently the past four seasons of the hit TV series Outlander. The latest set call has come from Netflix, for its forthcoming production of The Outlaw King.
Not only fit for a king in the form of a fictionalised Robert the Bruce, it’s clear Mr C’s Hand-Crafted Pies have served up an international recipe for success.
Further info: www.mrcspies.co.uk