Husband and wife butcher team open second Muddy Boots meat shop in Muswell Hill


Miranda - Credit: Archant

Back in 2008, Miranda Ballard and her husband Roland quit their media jobs to live on his dad’s Worcestershire farm.

After five years learning animal husbandry and butchery they founded their business Muddy Boots, selling high quality beef products to big supermarket chains.

But despite being ambitious, the couple soon realised they wanted a smaller scale more personal kind of business.

After researching a spot where independent food brands and young families collided, they drove into Crouch End one sunny day and fell in love with the community vibe.

The couple moved to Crouch End Hill and opened their first store in May 2014. A second opens on Friday in Muswell Hill.

“I had an amazing job in my 20s as Sir David Frost’s secretary for five years while my husband was in film production,” says Miranda.

“It was a surprise to both of us that we ended up having a meat company, but his dad was a beef farmer, and when we wanted to do a business together we thought there was scope for a cool food brand promoting really good British beef.”

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It was a brave move to withdraw from every supermarket except Waitrose to focus on selling their home butchered and cooked products in their own shop.

“We realised supermarkets weren’t for us and were really excited by a new format for a meat shop that was not a butchers and looked more like a supermarket but with better customer service and high quality products. We didn’t know north London but Crouch End immediately felt right.

“It was our test bed. We tried lots of things. Some didn’t work but the locals were very patient.”

Muddy Boots sells 100 meat lines including sausages, burgers, whole chickens, pork pies, pasties, and ready meals such as lasagne and meatballs that are competitively priced (£3.95 for a pack of mince, £3.49 for a pack of burgers.)

All their meat comes from farms with high standards of animal welfare and a passion for flavour.

“We don’t have open counters, blooded whites and carcasses on the shop floor – we do all the butchery and cooking ourselves in East London – and everything is packed and boxed. It’s not just meat for big occasions, people are looking for something different, easy suppers and we’re a real atnernative to a supermarket – one customer thanked us for not adding ‘the Crouch End pound’ to our prices.”

Ballard’s cookery book Modern Meat Kitchen (London New York £16.99) launched last November includes 90 recipes from 20 minute dishes to slow cooked casseroles and tips for what to do with leftovers.

And while the idea has always been to have a small chain of shops – as many as 10 – they are careful to take the business “one step at a time”.

“We are furiously ambitious but you have to be careful to take your time so you can look after the product and service. However big we grow one thing I will never give up is butchery. I am the butcher of the couple and I love wielding the cleaver. It’s my escape. If I don’t get a couple of hours a week I get antsy.”

Muddy Boots opens at 126 Fortis Green Road N10.