Trader of the Month: For Mice and Men

We’re pretty proud of our incredible traders: the best of Bristol’s street food, makers, and creators. Going forward, we’ll be celebrating a chosen few for their values, local ethos, and, of course, the amazing quality of their products.

And we’re delighted to announce our very first Trader of the Month is the brilliant For Mice and Men, helmed by local geniuses Vic & Tim. For Mice and Men were an obvious first choice for our new Trader of the Month feature: they’re regulars and favourites at all three of our markets, and customers and other traders alike rave about the quality of their food. We’re big fans of their approach towards sourcing and creating their food, and they’re also, just coincidentally, two of the nicest people you’ll meet.

This month we want to shout about how great they are: so follow us on Twitter and Facebook for the chance to win a For Mice and Men lunch on us, and read on to find out what makes them so special…

What was the impetus behind starting For Mice and Men?

We simultaneously had this Jerry McGuire-type moment where we decided we were done—DONE—with frittering our time and energy at the behest of our labour Overlords. Both of us had come to this junction in the past but simply held speed and course, like good zombies do, (and perhaps holding to a faint hope of being t-boned by an 18-wheeler). This time, however, we slowed down and really embraced the fact there were other directions we could go, other paths we could travel… and that realization was exciting.

So it was decided: we shall work for ourselves, be our own bosses, live the dream! Great—but how do we do that and where do we begin? For starters, we’re both a bit dumb, we’re no good at science or engineering or computers, and our social skills fluctuate between awkward and off-putting.  It wasn’t looking good; slightly above average ping-pong skills and puppy-like excitability topped a short list of our Best Traits.

By asking ‘What are we good at?’, we were confining ourselves to worn ways and denying ourselves to do something truly new and fun and exciting! The new question we begged to ask was “What do we love?”. ‘Food’, ‘Eating food’, ‘Making food’, ‘Cheeseboards’ , ‘Bread’.

So I guess you can say For Mice and Men was conceived out of angst and born of passion. Or introduced from fed-uppedness, devised from desires, and realized out of love. Or something like that. Basically the street food industry, by-and-large, is a passion industry… and we think For Mice and Men, from its inception to its present state and going forward, has/does/will always exemplify that.

Tell us how you go about making your food: the sourcing, the ingredients, the process…

We resolutely support independent businesses. We are walking distance from the majority of our suppliers (including Mark’s Bread, Ashton Fruit & Veg, Southville Deli, Rare Butchers, D.R. Butt Master Butcher, and The Fish Shop – North Street). Thanks be to God, cheese is not a seasonal ingredient.

The crux of our product is thee ingredients: cheese, bread, and butter. We leave the bread and cheese to folks that have done it for years and years. We have achieved a certain degree of epicurean status in regards to butter, which we churn and whip ourselves. We’re proud of that aspect of the product—it keeps us gritty.

We sometimes offer our butter for sale to the public, but that’s more of a seasonal thang or by request. Eatchu (Japanese dumplings you must try if you have any sense of self-worth) uses our butter for their nori gyozas—and those are something nice.

Oh, we also make our own sauces! A buffalo-style hot sauce, aioli, and spicy mayo. Each of those options developed sort of organically over time, and now have a cultish following. It never ceases to flatter when people rave about them.

Where do you see For Mice and Men in five years?

We’re still trying to figure next week’s special!

We’ve talked about a Mice & Men retreat located in the depths of some obscure jungle. Kind of a commune but not so hippyish, and without any Jim Jones antics. It’s idyllic for sure—and probably not five years away—but a fuzzy prospect nonetheless.

One of the brilliant things street food industry/market life/mobile eatery world affords you is flexibility. With a moment’s notice, you can change where you are, what you look like, your menu, your scale, your focus (markets, catering, festivals, etc) and so on.

I think the one constant we can always trust to be there, is our penchant for keeping it happy. Neither of us care for anything that puts profits over happiness. We think this works out well for us and our customers.

Who are your local food heroes?

The Bristol street food scene is something special. We have had pretty much all of it (most traders are happy to do “swapsees”). We’d be hard-pressed to rank them.

We both have a soft spot for Chilli Daddy (which now has three of four brick-and-mortar locations in Bristol, but still operate as the occasional street food outlet).

We don’t eat “fancy” too often, but Birch in Southville has left a lasting impression.

What would your last meal be?

Vic: Sushi. Followed by some sort of cake or ice cream. And then some mango.

Tim: I’d like to give human a go. No no, that’s a bit grim. I guess whatever she’s having.