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Wilkinson Mobile Catering Systems is the UK's leading manufacturer of mobile catering units. Established in 1978, our family-run business prides itself on high quality craftsmanship, friendly customer service and value for money.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

Absolutely smashing

How does a former police officer end up selling bangers and mash for a living? DENISE BARKLEY hears his extraordinary tale.

BANGERS and mash are a British staple and, judging by the success of former Wiltshire policeman Tom Kinderman’s catering company, this traditional comfort food is still a winner.

Tom, 42, runs The Sausage And Mash Company from his family’s farm in Manningford Bruce, near Pewsey, and is in the manic midst of the wedding season, serving up tasty plates of sausage — or pie — and mash to hungry wedding guests the length and breadth of Wiltshire, Gloucestershire and Somerset.

“It’s a great concept, and it’s going fantastically well, but I was never a businessman until five years ago,” grins Tom, who has an MSc in crisis management and had a 15-year career with Wiltshire Police before he swapped maintaining law and order for wielding a frying pan.

How that happened is truly extraordinary, revolving around an animal cruelty case Tom dealt with in Wiltshire when he was a police officer.

“The case involved cruelty to pigs on a massive scale,” Tom reveals.

“To aid the court case for Defra [Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs] we took some of the pigs to my dad’s farm where they were brought back to health, had a happy life and were sold on — with the money going into the Government coffers.

“We had a beef and dairy farm but, after that, we decided to keep more pigs and concentrated on rare breeds such as Belgian Pietrain, Saddleback and Gloucester Old Spot.

“We had 86 pigs, which eventually became award-winning rare breed sausages – and there were an awful lot of them!

“We were wondering how to sell them and then I had a brainwave – sausage and mash go perfectly together, so I would sell them at a music festival.”

He roped in a mate to help and booked a pitch at a festival at Hudson’s Field, in Salisbury.

“We had an oven for the sausages, a load of ready-prepared mash and gravy, and a £19.99 gazebo which immediately took off in the wind.” Tom laughs.

“There was a queue of people from word go and the food literally flew out – we couldn’t keep up! In the end I told the customers ‘go away, there’s loads of other places selling food’, but no, they wanted our sausage and mash.”

It was a lightbulb moment for Tom, and he realised this was a potential catering niche. He started selling sausage and mash at various events and festivals, such as Bristol Balloon Festival, the 2012 Olympics in Weymouth and Concert at the Kings, All Cannings.

“Then out of the blue, and bearing in mind at this point I had no website, I got a phone call from someone who had tried our sausage and mash, asking if I could cater a wedding in Berkshire.

“I thought well, here we go then. It was three years ago and we went from zero to hero in one fell swoop catering for 120 guests — we pulled it off, and it was a great feeling.”

Since Tom climbed on the gravy train, weddings have been his core business.

He caters for weddings at the exclusive Wellington Barn, near Calne, as well as several other venues and he also serves up bangers and mash at garden parties and festivals, all cooked fresh on site from his iconic Citroen H Van which he converted himself and is equipped with three ovens and the latest hi-tech food preparation equipment.

The van takes Tom and his team all over the place and one exciting assignment has been feeding the actors and crew at Pinewood Film Studios in Hertfordshire.

“The last time was for a Star Wars film after they had filmed a cold, wet scene,” says Tom. “Good, warming British food goes down well after that.”

The Sausage And Mash Company has now branched out into pies too – but not any old pies: these are from the renowned Pieminister company in Bristol.

They echo the quality and flavour of the pork which goes into the sausages, now sourced from Cameron Naughton’s pig farm in Bishops Cannings and butchered by John Stokes at Lowerfield Farm, Coate.

“After my dad sadly died five years ago we stopped rearing pigs and beef but we wanted to maintain our quality sausages with pork sourced locally and ethically produced – we pride ourselves on being very much a local company,” says Tom.

“Guests can choose from five different sausages such as the classic pork or chilli or onion marmalade, and eight different pies with delicious fillings like steak and stilton or wild mushroom and asparagus, and they come on a sharing platter — there’s always a lot of excitement seeing who is having which sausage or pie. We also have veggie and gluten-free options.

“This year has been really busy — so far we have done 29 weddings catering for between 80 and 200 people each time.

“The company has grown as our reputation has spread and we are taking more and more bookings. I run the company single-handed and hire in chefs and casual staff... yes, it is a massive task!”

Tom cherishes his time off with his wife Elise, 32. They were married last year at Calstone church followed by a reception at Wellington Barn where, naturally, the menu featured pie and mash.

The couple love to travel and, once the wedding season is over in November they will take a month off to visit New Zealand, where Elise comes from.

And it is in the quieter winter months that Tom makes use of his degree in crisis management, doing consultancy work for the Foreign Office.

“I love sausage and mash or pie and mash and I’d honestly eat it every day,” he laughs.

“It’s all going really well and I feel I am building a future for us. Who knows, maybe I’ll even have my own restaurant one day.”

For more information, visit thesausageandmashcompany.com.

Wilkinson Mobile Catering Systems Ltd, Unit 1, Global Way,
Lower Eccleshill Road, Darwen, Lancashire.
BB3 0RW, UK
E-mail: info@wilkinsoncatering.co.uk
Telephone: 01254 706 348
Fax: 01254 701 335
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