Tell us a bit about yourself, the person behind the brand!

I live with my family in County Durham, where we moved seven years ago from London.  Although my early adult years were spent in the South, I’ve returned to my roots as I was brought up outside Barnard Castle – bringing my Southern Belle (Jake) home with me!  We have three kids and live in a rather dilapidated farmstead which we are gently restoring, and at the same time growing a menagerie of animals to fill some buildings…

By way of a potted history of my earlier years; on leaving Edinburgh University I joined the drift to London with my friends – initially working for a Private Equity fund – and latterly becoming a head hunter in the City.  My head was turned by an entrepreneurial Green Tech company, where I was focused on business development until we started our family when living in Battersea.  In short, absolutely nothing to do with either the rural economy or food!!  

One of the things Jake and I agreed with our move North was that I would be relieved of my office job yoke and focus on being at home with our young family.  I literally took off my suit and put on an apron so it was in this entirely practical realm that I learned to cook and really appreciate food, flavours and the provenance of good ingredients.  That, and also, the very real need to find good quality culinary shortcuts for sanity! 

How did “Girl Gone Wild” start? Where did the idea come from and what gave you the “boost” to get started?

Girl Gone Wild was a lightbulb moment that came in late January 2020. Jake returned from shooting one evening with a pair of pheasant breasts under cling film.  As he rarely shot, and I don’t/ didn’t, my exposure to game meat was actually extremely rare, so I thanked him and said I was looking forward to seeing what he did with them….. (ordinarily he sweats having to boil an egg….!)

To his credit, he pan-fried them with some lardons in the fridge and they were unbelievably delicious… call it beginners luck… !  I remember saying to him, this is madness, why aren’t we all eating pheasant?  Why isn’t it easier to eat pheasant??

After doing some research, putting some flesh around the bones of a plan, and speaking to some friends – including an extremely astute Godparent of one of my kids – I was told to ring this bloke ‘Tom Richardson’, as he may have a view on whether this would work or not.  It turns out Tom had been a Buyer for Waitrose for ten years, worked for Coles in Australia and then Morrisons before going it solo in the Agri-Food sector as a consultant.  He immediately saw the opportunity and has been at my elbow ever since, now a key stakeholder in the business.  Where I bring creativity, ideas, a sense of taste and opportunity, Tom brings a wealth of experience, a fantastic retail/ supply chain network and of course huge pragmatism.  He is currently Managing Director of Warrendale Wagyu (

Could you share an insight in to how you develop recipes etc?

From the get-go this project has been about introducing new audiences to wild meat and making it more accessible (to try and redress the supply: demand imbalance).  Although perceived as a niche by some, we feel game meat could be broadly appealing if packaged correctly… this has not only influenced our look and feel brand-wise, but also the recipes in the launch range.  We have kept to British Classics – so in a ‘safe place’ taste-wise, nothing challenging on the taste buds and bringing absolute ease in terms of cooking and prep – the meat in all the meals is cooked and enveloped in delicious sauces making them fail-safe. In terms of developing the recipes, we have been fortunate to work with an exceptional chef, Gav, in our kitchen who has run with my ideas and multiple tweaks! My favourite recipe, the Pheasant Keralan Curry, was given to me by a great friend on a well-loved, splattered, photocopy and we were able to recreate it exactly which was fabulous.  

We are focused on further product development as we speak, so watch this space!

Written by Melanie Phipps, Founder of Girl Gone Wild Foods