CELEBRITY chef Martin Blunos has signed up with Mad About Pies as the business looks to expand its presence in the county.
In a 12-month deal, the TV chef, who has held two Michelin stars for more than 15 years, is now chief pie developer at the Longhope-based company and a Martin Blunos Gastro Pub Pie range will be in shops next week.
Mad About Pies has also joined forces with Charles Wells Pub Company, landing a contract to supply all its 255 pubs throughout the country.
The company is also in talks with a Premiership football club to supply 20,000 pies a week to its ground. It currently supplies 1,000 pies a season to Crystal Palace FC.
The business is now looking to open a second factory unit in the Forest of Dean to keep up with demand.
Managing director Phil Kiernan said: "The deals are flying in. We have a number of long-term deals and are expanding at a rapid rate.
"Getting Martin Blunos on board is like getting a dragon.
"We have outgrown our unit already and are looking for another factory."
After recruiting consultant Diane Green at the end of last year, the brand has signed a deal to stock the five-pie gastro range to 21 Co-operative supermarkets and 10 of their stores across the South West, including the Forest of Dean, from May 28.
New packaging is about to be released for the range, which includes Steak and Blue Stilton pie and Steak and Irish Stout pie and the firm hopes to produce 10,000 pies a week from the end of July.
It is looking to secure a second unit by September and hopes to push factory staff levels up from six to 25.
"Pies are very sexy at the moment," Phil said. "With the Olympics coming people want traditional British pies."
A low-cost pie range is currently under development, as well as a Hungry Scholar range for university students, a Hungry Camper range for festival goers and a Hungry Pilgrim selection for train users, while they are in talks with train companies and will franchise out for the university and festival markets later this year.
The company won three silvers at the 2012 British Pie Awards last month with the Steak, Guinness and Stilton Gastro Pie, Chicken, Leek and Mushroom Gastro Pie and Vegetarian Sweet Potato and Butternut Squash Gastro Pie picking up awards.
Phil added: "It's absolutely pie-tastic. It puts us on the map. No-one knew who we were but they know who we are now."
Mad About Pies was established last year in a deli situated next to the Farmers Boy Inn in Longhope.
Phil, who owns the pub, soon opened a factory after a £350,000 bank loan from Lloyds TSB, moving operation out of the pub, where they had become a big hit, and into the 750 sq ft factory on Forest Vale Industrial Estate, Cinderford.
It secured a catering contract with Worcester Warriors Rugby Club to supply at least 30,000 pies.