You find yourself in your mid forties wondering where your life’s gone, what’s been ticked off the bucket list and how many years that you have left. You’re having a mid life crisis. You may chose to remedy the situation in any number of ways; for starters you might splash out on a convertible, you might resort to plastic surgery or if you’re my dad, you start a band and call it Mid Life Crisis. Anything to feel young again.
James Davies on the other hand had his a little prematurely and remedied his in a much more delicious way. “After a mid-20s crisis I changed career, trained up as a chef and worked in various food related jobs,” he explained. After working as a restaurant chef, a private chef and an organic food business manager, James decided to start his own culinary business. “I thought ‘I’m 30, if I don’t do it now, I never will,’” he continued and with that, Little Jack Horner’s was born.
“Little Jack Horner’s started in London in early 2010 at the start of the recession,” James, originally from Penarth, said, “I buttoned down the hatches and honed the business at affluent farmers’ markets that wouldn’t feel the pinch.” Four years later, Little Jack Horner’s is now residing in Somerset, after moving to Frome in January and with a passion for traditional British comfort food, James is devoted to hand crafting some of the finest sausage rolls that will ever pass your lips.
These are in a whole different league to the “drab and depressingly stodgy” sausage rolls filled with “grey ‘meat’” that you’ll find in your local supermarket. These are the champions of the sausage premier league, the Pelé of pork-encrusted pastries, the saviour of sausage rolls.
“We make sausage rolls – proper ones, which is why GQ voted them ‘the best sausage rolls we’ve ever tasted,’ and we have been declared a ‘BBC Good Food Champion,’” James said with pride. “We only use the best locally sourced meat and we roll the pastry by hand, and I like to think we have pretty good recipes!” he continued.
But it wasn’t always sausage rolls on the menu. Back when he started the company, pies were the main event and sausage rolls only came to the front of the stage “by chance.”
“I originally sold potted pies in tins at markets,” James explained, “sausage rolls appeared on the side of the market tables as a ready to eat snack and they quickly gathered a following and took over the business.”
The key this success (other than the remarkably delectable flavours including Pork and Smoked Chilli, and Black Pudding and Apple as well as the new vegetarian Spinach, Egg and Maris Peer recipe) James claims, is putting his all into it. “Like anything in the food industry, or any other career really, you have to try to make the best you can, then go on from there. Don’t compromise,” he said, “If you’re honest, the rest will take care of itself.”
Despite such success James wasn’t about to settle down and open a restaurant and instead frequents festivals, fairs, shows and markets, including the imminent WAles Beer Festival and Craft Beer Rising in London early this year.
James’ passion and love of the craft shines through with and each sausage roll clearly comes from his heart and soul and with that in mind, you’d surely be off your rocker not to chow down on them between beers this weekend.
If you’re not going to the WAles Beer Festival, Little Jack Horner’s have an online shop as well as a kiosk in Frome that’s open on Saturdays and be sure to check out which events James and his handmade wooden shop front will be visiting here and follow them on Twitter or Facebook for updates!