Former police constable Tom Mottershead set up his catering business The Deesidedly Tasty Company to offer tasty slow-cooked meats and a BBQ service in the north-east.
The company director, who set up the Banchory-based business six years ago, had to adapt the way The Deesidedly Tasty Company operated due to the ongoing pandemic.
With most events and weddings cancelled, Tom decided to set up a food trailer in Banchory to offer delicious breakfast and lunch options as well as the firm’s signature slow-cooked briskets and other BBQ delights.
We caught up with Tom to find out more about The Deesidedly Tasty Company, its popular dishes and how coronavirus affected the firm.
When did you set up The Deesidedly Tasty Company? What motivated you to do it?
The company went live in June 2015. My previous business partner and I were both big foodies and loved the idea of slow-cooked meats as a core to our business. We initially set up as a hog roast business and moved into other slow-cooked meats and BBQ service due to demand.
What would you like everyone to know about your business? What’s at the heart of everything you do?
We always had the core principle of offering a high-quality product but not charge extortionate prices. We don’t have set menus so work with our clients to provide a menu to suit their requirements. It takes a little longer in the initial process but it means we have a more personal connection from start to finish. It is not just about the food, but also the overall experience received by our customers.
Our core business circulates around the slow-cooked meats and BBQ service. Our BBQ pulled pork, brisket and maple BBQ chicken are our most popular dishes. We make our own BBQ sauces so the flavour of our dishes is unique to the business.
Are you based in Aberdeenshire?
Yes, we’re based in Banchory. We generally operate within the Grampian region, however, we have provided services as far north as Inverness and as south as Perth.
Can you tell our readers more about your popular hog roast and BBQ services?
We cook our hogs for 14 hours prior to service – we can do this partially off-site and then finish off the cooking process onsite depending on the distance to the venue. A standard sized hog (70kg – 80kg) can feed in excess of 140 people when served in rolls. We also offer half hogs and shoulders of pork for smaller parties. The most popular service requested is a mixture of hog – pulled pork and slow-cooked brisket – which provides a variety to the clients’ guests. We also provide fish and vegetarian/vegan options. We also have an array of homemade sides that we offer as add ons. We have a street hut we can assemble almost anywhere and as we rarely require electricity for our services, it means we can be very flexible with locations.
Where was the furthest place foodies were able to enjoy your tasty hog roast/ BBQ?
One of the most remote BBQ services we provided was at Loch Muick near Ballater for a group of hill walkers. It was a really great service but we hadn’t banked on the amount of midges. As soon as I switched off the BBQ, I was eaten alive.
Can you name some of your favourite dishes?
The BBQ pulled pork and brisket are the top choice for me. They have been on our core menu from the start and go down a treat. We do a Moroccan inspired lamb which is one of my personal favourites as I just love the spices and flavour from the slow-cooked lamb. Grilled halloumi and BBQ pepper wraps are also a big hit with the vegetarians and one of my weaknesses – I absolutely love halloumi cheese.
Why did you decide to also start offering more traditional buffets? What about your breakfast offering?
As we moved away from the public events and ventured into private catering, we started to receive requests for buffets. It was different from what we had originally planned but we saw that there was a demand in the buffet sector. Again, we work with the client to form a menu. We offer everything from the more traditional sandwiches and sides through to Spanish and Mexican cuisine. As long as it is within our capabilities, we are more than happy to accommodate any requests. We had the idea of providing a breakfast service, mainly for the day after weddings or prior to a party going away on a day out. It can be a great stress release for organisers if there is someone there to feed their guests at any time of day depending on the event. We have provided our breakfast for corporate businesses who are having an open day and it goes down a treat.
Do you also cater weddings? Do you change up your offering or do you still offer your popular hog roast or slow-cooked meats?
In 2016, we attended a wedding show at the AECC. Initially, we thought people would look to us for the night time service since we offer pulled pork rolls and that sort of thing. We provided samples at the show and on the back of that, we had requests to provide food for the main service. It was a bit of a shock as we had never provided canapes or desserts so we had to work quickly to create menu options and types of service. To be honest, the first couple of years of providing the wedding services was a bit of a whirlwind and a huge learning curve for us but we managed to get through it unscathed and are now a lot more experienced. The majority of clients that contact us know what we specialise in and are looking for what we offer. The slow-cooked meat options are still our biggest demand and the majority of our weddings are more laid back gatherings with sharing platters served to the tables.
Do you work with any local producers? Is supporting local important to you?
Yes, for sure. Our main supplier is Collie Butchers in Kemnay – we have worked with them from the off and the vast majority of our meat is provided by them. The team are great and very supportive. We also work with Harthill Hospitality (Oyne Fork) and Wait For You (waiting staff agency) for our wedding supplies. We also work with Katy’s Eggs in Torphins, Granite City Fish, Mortlach Game, Little Crumb Bake House and Lisa Jayne’s Kitchen. We have also worked with other local suppliers for individual events depending on the requirement. Supporting local is up there with our core values. Also, we work alongside other local suppliers at many of the events. They may provide bar service, events décor or other services which ensure that the event is complete. They are really important to us especially in the wedding industry as we rely on many local suppliers to bring everything together.
How many staff do you employ? Are you a good team?
As the business is dependent on demand and subject to seasonal change, we have a number of employees on our books. Most of them have their own employment and use us as a secondary income. The team are great and very flexible. We work in all types of weather and venue conditions and they are a class act. There is always banter behind the scenes and they make the business, without them, we would not have succeeded.
Would you say you have loyal customers?
Oh man, yes. We have learnt that customer loyalty is key and if you lose that loyalty you are doing something wrong. As a predominantly private caterer, you generally don’t get repeat bookings from the same customers unless it is a business or event that requires your services time and again. That doesn’t mean that we don’t have loyal customers, it just means that they don’t require our services repeatedly. However, if the Covid pandemic has taught us something, it is that our previous customers/clients still support us and remember the service we provided. Our customers are the most important factor in the business – we would not be here without them or their continued support. We love receiving feedback from our customers as it helps us shape the business going forward.
How did coronavirus affect your business?
At the beginning of March 2020, we were looking at our busiest year and we were looking to take on a commercial kitchen and full-time staff. Within two weeks, we lost 80% of our bookings for the entire year and it was quite apparent that the rest of our bookings were either going to move to a later date or cancel. We made public that the business was going to cease trading and taking on bookings until we had a better idea of the circumstance. In May 2020, we set up a home delivery service, providing our slow-cooked meats and sides. We established four delivery zones on a fortnightly basis. The response was great and it was going well until the lockdown eased and the “Eat out to help out” promotions came into place. This caused further strain on the business as private gatherings over 20 people couldn’t take place so it was actually a more difficult time for the business.
Was it then when you came up with the idea of setting up a food trailer?
Yes, in October 2020, we decided that the only viable option for the business was to find somewhere we could provide a takeaway service from. Local business rates for premises were too high to consider and we needed to find the right location quickly. We managed to identify a plot of land that we could set up a food trailer on which had good access and accessibility. We knew we had great community support in Banchory, so it was ideal. We had to apply to the council for our street traders’ licence for the pitch and await any opposition that may arise. We also contacted another catering company (Skoff Catering) based in Dyce who had a spare food trailer which they made available to us for lease. The guys were really accommodating and ensured the trailer was ready to go when we required it. We eventually set up the trailer in February 2021 and it has been going from strength to strength. We are now on the lookout for our own trailer as we have the pitch for the next three years at least. We provide a more generic menu from Monday to Friday, offering breakfast and lunch options. On Friday and Saturday evenings, we switch our menu to our slow-cooked meats which has been going down a storm. It has literally saved the business and we would like to thank everyone who has supported us on our new venture.
Visit www.thedeesidedlytastycompany.uk for more information