Food & Drink Friday, August 26th Words by: Adam Knight, pictures by: Jamie Orlando Smith, illustration by Adam Knight/Farmer Tom Jones

Unmasking The Burger Shop’s Meat Man of Mystery: Q&A with master butcher Farmer Tom Jones

Food & Drink Friday, August 26th

Unmasking The Burger Shop’s Meat Man of Mystery: Q&A with master butcher Farmer Tom Jones

For anyone who’s eaten on Aubrey Street, there’s a certain myth and mystery that hangs over the meat, from steak nights to menu boards to vague name-checks in Guardian reviews.

To clarify, we’re not talking a Findus Frozen Lasagne-esque mystery. No. This mythology surrounds an enigmatic figure known only in hushed whispers and eponymous burger orders as ‘Farmer Tom’, the man whose meat forms the centrepiece of almost every plate and tray that is served up at A Rule of Tum’s celebrated Burger Shop and Bookshop.

A drama student-turned-meat magnate, Thomas ‘Tom’ Jones has for 14 years supplied some of London’s top restaurants with cuts from a family farm on the Welsh borders.

His reputation is built on a throwback style of farming that comes from the simple premise that happy animals make for happy diners.

It’s a reputation that has seen him become the first call for top chefs from Kentish Town taverns to burger shops in the heart of Hereford – among his list of regulars are two of the top 16 UK chefs food mag Olive picked out as 2016’s Most Important. And as a farmer, butcher and cook he himself is the walking, talking embodiment of the farm-to-plate ethos that he has built his business on.

His website’s homepage says it simply: “Providing London's finest restaurants with bloody good meat and cooking it for people too.”


For those, like myself, who have eaten an ungodly number of burgers with his name on the masthead, this weekend represents a rare opportunity to put a face to the name, as Farmer Tom teams up with the Cypriot Kitchen to serve up something special at Hereford Indie Food.

We caught up with meat’s Man of Mystery for a quick Q & A ahead of the weekend.

Hi there Tom - how’s it going?


You’re a “Farmer. Butcher. Cook.” If you had to put the three in order – which do you enjoy the most?

Enjoy farming, cooking then butchery. Unfortunately I do too much butchery, not enough farming and very little cooking.

What makes a happy cow?

A happy cow is one that is outside and is left alone as much as possible with a lot to eat.

What are the places in your industry that you are most excited about?

Black Axe Mangal - Highbury Corner, London.


@blackaxemangal Originals. @tristrambowden @bambambaklava #axemen #slayers #kissarmy

A photo posted by BAM (@blackaxemangal) on

If you could change one thing about the way we eat – or the way we see food – what would it be?

Less plastic in our food and our lives. It's time we saw what a valuable material it is and used it sparingly and for vital elements of life rather than burning and burying it.

What have you got in store for us at Hereford Indie Food? 

Great meat collides with Cypriot flavour, all down your chin and onto your best blouse. I'm most looking forward to a heady atmosphere not dampened by rain.

Tell us a bit about your own story up to this point...

Fled an intensive family farm for the bright lights of London, found out that City folk crave fresh air and untarnished meat, came back and diced up a few animals, took the bits to London and fed the happy urbanites. Hey presto!


In a restaurant, how do you order your steak/lamb?

Medium rare.

When you go out to eat, are you more of a white tablecloths or plastic cutlery guy?

I prefer less pretentious eating and fussing. The successful food ventures are those that keep it simple and use the best possible ingredients.

On your Instagram, there’s a mini farmer that makes a few appearances – what’s their favourite food?

Fish pie, Pom bears, loads of fruit, chocolate and yogurt.

What’s good to drink with Farmer Tom’s/Cypriot Kitchen?

Butty Bach. But then butty Bach is best with everything.



The gorgeous photos throughout this article were taken by the super-talented Jamie Orlando Smith. You can check out more of his work and get in touch with him via his website , Instagram or Twitter.


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