Simon Ball’s job overseeing the catering department in a big Manchester law firm came to an abrupt end one Monday morning a few years ago.
“I was driving to work in the dark and pulled over into the IKEA car-park, phoned by wife and said ‘I don’t want to go to work’. She told me to come back home. So I left work.
“We went around the world for six months, came back and I didn’t want to work for The Man. The paperwork, the health and safety, was ridiculous. I did some catering work at a Liverpool hotel and ended up making eggs for breakfast and taking home about £140 a week. It was a joke,” laughs Simon.
“I’d worked at Michelin-starred restaurants, for famous chefs – some amazing places. I used to work at Randall & Aubin in Soho where Mick Jagger and the royals ate – and all of a sudden I was making fried eggs! It was the push I needed.”
However, the journey to the best pulled-pork Simon Rimmer has ever tasted (now verified by a photo in response to Twitter cynics) had a few wrong turns, including cupcakes, brownies and the city’s misfiring farmer’s markets.
“I thought ‘I know how to make cheap things taste great and put on a bit of theatre’, so I contacted a butcher and started doing steak sandwiches before progressing to pulled pork.
“I thought about having enough spare money in the business to buy a Rolex – I’d previously owned one and sold it to buy my wife’s engagement ring. I looked at the food markets and catering at festivals and decided that the food was rubbish. I was aghast and decided I could do better.
“I went to the local butcher and asked what the cheapest cut of meat was and it was pork shoulder. In-your-face American food was starting to become popular and I thought I could add value to it with the spice rubs, homemade slaw and sauces. It’s fresh, it’s honest, it tastes great and it’s filling.
Money may be, as Simon says, a very happy side-effect of doing something that’s good, but he isn’t standing still. A range of sauces – sold on his reclamation-chic food stall – will be hitting Liverpool shelves soon, one of which rejoices in the unlikely name of Yo Mama’s So Fat BBQ Sauce.
“It’s ironic that Monday is my day off now, because it was a Monday morning all those years ago when I jacked it all in. I see all sorts of gigs, I travel the country, I eat great food and I have a laugh. It’s brilliant – it’s the best job in the world.”