Meet the man behind Gloucestershire hot sauce producer Tubby Tom's
- Credit: Candia McKormack
When Tom Hughes, Gloucestershire spice overlord and founder of Tubby Tom’s, says his branding success is ‘just down to luck,’ I don't believe him for a second.
Everything about TT’s is inspired, from the branding design (by Tom himself), social media presence, team camaraderie, and, of course, the incredible explosion of flavours in his ever-expanding range of products.
Tom set up his business in 2014, while working at Over Farm. As he puts it, ‘A guy walked in with a box of tomatoes, red peppers, chillies and stuff and asked if anyone wanted to use them, so I took them home and made a barbecue sauce... which I'd never done before.’ As it happened, it ‘turned out alright’, so he – with admirable energy and foresight – came up with the branding and decided to go into production from his two-bedroom cottage.
While studying Animal Welfare at Hartpury, Tom continued working at Over Farm and was given the opportunity to take over catering for events there, such as Barn on the Farm, serving his distinctive - and hugely popular – Chicken, Chips & BBQ sauce, with free-range birds from Madgett’s Farm. His training came in the form of working under the formidable but brilliant Rob Rees (now based in Australia) at the Star Bistro, Ullenwood. ‘I thought he was such a legend – it was an awesome place to start – and it’s been amazing how he’s been following us ever since.’
Following trading at Stroud, Gloucester, Cheltenham and other farmers’ markets – where they did enviable swaps with Cotswold Curer, Salt Bakehouse and others – Tubby Tom’s has expanded to sell to over 85 outlets, including – ahem – Harvey Nichols. Oh, yes. And now, for the last three years, they have taken on an impressive unit at Churcham Business Park, with another in the process of being converted. And, as with everything Tom does, it’s with energy and the willing help of friends and family, and you sense that no matter how big the brand grows, that will always be the case.
And do you know what the really wonderful thing about Tom is? He’s a huge and very vocal supporter of other food and drink producers in the area – his enthusiasm really is contagious. Now, having tasted many of his recipes, including Pablo Diablo, Tubbyaki and Maple Bacon Dust, I know no-one can be more deserving of their place alongside the Cotswold foodie greats.
You really are hot stuff, Tom.
Visit tubbytoms.com to shop the range, join the ‘Tubb Club’, and find out about events, including the brilliant Tubby Tom’s yard sales and Christmas markets.
Follow Tom on Instagram.
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