A magical birthday dinner: Returning to WYLD one year on

If you’ve been reading my blog for a year or so, you might remember my feature all about WYLD, a conscious and experiential food business with a philosophy to re-establish our lost connection with nature and the source of our food. I was lucky enough to be invited to the soft launch of it in the late summer WYLD in September 2021. It was perhaps the launch I was most excited about in 2022 as it was wildly different from any other food business in the area. Earlier this year, WYLD officially launched its woodland dining events and they invited me back to celebrate my birthday with dinner in the woods!

So Dan and I eagerly returned to the Wyld Wood almost a year later to experience WYLD once more which was just incredible. The event coincided with my 27th birthday so it was the perfect excuse to celebrate! It was a very special evening and I even had a wildflower birthday crown waiting at my table for me.

It is so great to see a thriving new business. WYLD is something that I am sure will become a much-loved gem in Milton Keynes! In this blog post, I’ve written all about my experience once again and shared a little more about WYLD and the message they are trying to spread.

About WYLD

WYLD describes itself as a conscious and experiential food business with a philosophy to re-establish our lost connection with nature and the source of our food. The dining experiences aim to bring people back together, both with one another and with the natural world which surrounds us.

The founder, Jonathan Muston (Muzz) has spent his life working alongside UK agriculture, so has developed a deep appreciation of the source of our food. He is passionate about re-establishing the lost connection between the food in our fridges, its origin, and what happens in the process to get it there. WYLD began life in 2020, as Johnny started to bring to life the ideas he had for this unique experience.

The concept

The event is held in a secret woodland in south Milton Keynes which has been adapted to accommodate table settings and space for diners. Up until 2021, the woodland was overgrown with brambles that were actually suffocating the biodiversity of the area. The opening has been cleared with grass seed laid. Walkways through the remaining brambles and woodland have also been created and there are cosy spaces and benches to take some time out and enjoy your pre-dinner drinks.

It’s truly an escape from reality!

The tables and canopies are made from wind-blown timber and coppiced wood from local woodland management. This creates a rustic, cosy atmosphere that many indoor restaurants seek to achieve. The table centrepieces were jars of seasonal wild flowers. The last time we were in the Wyld wood, it was late September, so this time in midsummer, it had a totally different vibe! Despite the heat, it was cool and shady amongst the trees.

Everything at WYLD dining events is cooked outside over an open fire, a firm nod to hunter-style cooking. The ‘kitchen’ has been created using the tree trunks and the BBQ, hot water tank and sink have all been made from upcycled materials. It was all designed and built for purpose so that the chefs can have a fully functioning space to cook and serve the food.

Since the event started last year, they have been collaborating with chefs from MK’s food scene and beyond. Chef James Carr and Chef Nico Baker both hosted an event recently. At this particular event, Hendrik the Chef cooked for us. He is based in Oxfordshire and has his own smallholding where he grows vegetables for his cooking. You can follow Hendrik on Instagram: @hendrikthechef @harvest_kitchenhj


Sustainability is a huge part of WYLD do and a key message they want to spread. They use local, sustainable suppliers because they genuinely believe that food systems need to change to support us. They are keen to support regenerative farms such as Cranley Barn Farms and Nature Way Farm in Syresham. Regenerative farming can help reduce the impact of climate change. It’s a more eco-friendly and circular way of farming as you use animals and biodiversity to put nutrients into the soil, not chemical fertilisers.

The ingredients we enjoyed at WYLD had travelled a maximum of 40 miles from supplier to kitchen. Now that’s pretty awesome.

The food

On arrival, we were led to a little campfire circle where we were given a glass of champagne. We heard from the founder, Johnny about WYLD’s story and where everything we would be eating came from.

We then walked a little further into the woods where we enjoyed some canapés. The first was venison and pickles gooseberry. This was a small, crumbed piece of venison topped with a pickled gooseberry. It was decadent and rich, with a welcome sharpness from the gooseberry. The version is WYLD’s own venison, which is a sustainable option for red meat.

The second canapé was a pickled quail egg rolled in onion ash. Now, this was quite extraordinary! You got an initial hit of sweet sharpness from the pickling liquid followed by the nuttiness of the egg and ash.

After we had enjoyed our canapés, we walked to the woodland dining area. The set-up was pretty much the same as before with a campfire in the middle surrounded by tables.

The meal commenced with a chunk (read: doorstop) of fresh bread made with Cotswold flour. It was served with freshly churned butter with a pot of salt so that you could salt it as much as you pleased – dreamy!

We had a pea pod broth made with the shells from the fresh peas that are also featured in this dish, along with a confit egg yolk. The yolk satisfyingly popped into the broth and made a rich, milky soup that was perfect for dipping!

There is a carafe of both red and white wine on your tables to enjoy throughout the meal, as well as water which is topped up throughout the evening. Any additional drinks are available to purchase throughout the night, but with my bottle of birthday prosecco from Saf, we didn’t need to do that!

Hendrik the Chef explained that when you grow your own vegetables, you get nothing for months, and then have a huge harvest. At the moment, it’s very much salad season and he has been left with an abundance of leaves! So the next course was a celebration of the salad leaf, and perhaps the nicest salad I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying…

On the plate were bitter leaves, courgettes flowers and courgettes drizzled in a sweet, honey dressing. Honestly, this was beautiful! So fresh and light with the perfect marriage of flavours between the leaves and honey. Greens never looked or tasted so good.

Bitter leaves, courgettes flowers and honey dressing.

Our starter was a fish dish featuring crayfish, chalk stream trout, dill pickles, cultured cream and land cress. Once again, this was a true celebration of seasonal flavour. The crayfish was beautiful with a nutty flavour slightly reminiscent of lobster. The cultured cream was quite something and was almost goat’s cheese-like in both flavour and texture. The pickle was beautiful and cut through what richness the dish had. My only critique was that I wanted one more pickle!

On a side note about suppliers and the environmental aspect, you might be aware that crayfish are an invasive species that upset the biodiversity of rivers and streams. If you catch a crayfish, you aren’t allowed to put it back. The crayfishes served at WYLD were sourced from Crayfish Capers, based in Milton Keynes.

Crayfish, chalk stream trout, dill pickles, cultured cream and land cress.

The main event featured pork belly fermented cabbage and gooseberry jam. This dish was hearty but not heavy. The pork belly was tender and silky with a welcome sharpness from the jam.

The Pork was sourced from Nature’s Way Farm, a regenerative farm based in Syresham who are committed to methods that nourish the soil, rewild ecosystems and care for animals.

Pork belly, fermented cabbage and gooseberry jam.

And finally, it was time for dessert! This was simply yet truly special. Strawberries were warmed over the dying embers of the fire, served in a bowl and topped with thyme whipped cream. It was the perfect balance of sweet and savoury. The strawberries were all jammy and delicious. The cream was just beautiful too!

Strawberries warmed over the dying embers and thyme whipped cream.

Final thoughts

WYLD is a truly special experience that I think everyone in Milton Keynes needs to try. It is unlike anything else in MK and I love how passionate they are about the sustainability message. I’ve learned so much recently about sustainable farming and how important it is to source proper, seasonal food and I love that WYLD tap into that ethos and embrace it fully.

The attention to detail at these events is second to none, it’s very easy to forget that this is their first full year in operation.

Tickets to WYLD events are £95 per person which includes all of your food, a glass of prosecco on arrival and some red and white wine on the table. The event lasts all evening. The location is revealed once you’ve purchased your tickets (It’s somewhere in Whaddon, so a stone’s throw away from CMK and very taxi-able!)

To be the first to hear about WYLD’s events, head to their website and sign up for their mailing list: www.wyldgroup.co.uk. You can also follow them on Instagram @we.are.wyld. If you do end up visiting WYLD, let them know I sent you!

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