Katy Davidson, founder of Mangez-Moi Oysters is on a mission to convert the oyster-haters, starting with the customers at Maida Hill Market
How did you come to start your stall?
I have been passionate about oysters for years, hence being called The Oyster Lady. I have talked about oysters on stage to hundreds of people but one of the things I love most is getting up close and personal with interested folk and showing them how to enjoy them properly and helping them get past some of the misinformation they may have had on oysters. One thing I have to say… don’t swallow them whole.
What have been the major challenges that you’ve faced so far?
I am based in Cornwall so have to travel a long way to bring lovely Porthilly Rock oysters, some of the best in the world in my opinion, to London markets. Also, with live shellfish you cannot leave stock up in London until next time, so planning and timing are essential.
What sort of responses have you had from the public?
There’s always a lot of interest with stalls that have live creatures on them. However, I have started doing BBQ’d oysters as you don’t have to eat them raw. There is a lot of snobbery around oysters and I am trying to dispel that barrier and get as many people eating oysters as possible, whether they’re 8 or 80.
What are your plans for the future?
I hope to come up as regularly as possible and have been collaborating with other lovely Cornish producers to make that more viable, such as The Cornish Seaweed Company whose produce I brought up for goodie bags and tastings for the launch market. I’ll continue to offer the traditional raw oysters on the half shell but hope that people will come for the cooked oysters and the special Mangez Moi sauces and BBQ butters I’ve developed. I’ll also be developing my HotRocks Oyster BBQ trays so that people can enjoy them at home just as much. My dream is to make oysters as common in the kitchen as they used to be in the 19th century.
Do you think that people are more receptive to buying their food from markets than they were?
Markets were the beginning of food beyond self-sufficiency and they were what shops and then supermarkets based themselves on; we’re even seeing the likes of Morrisons trying to recreate ‘market streets’ within huge stores. Happily, it looks like we are going full circle and people want to meet the producers and purveyors that care so much about their offerings.
What are you proudest of having achieved?
Converting a chap whose only foray into seafood was a fishfinger drowned in tomato sauce, to loving oysters was an absolute classic. I’ve converted hundreds of doubters but that was the best.
Mangez Moi Oysters; mangezmoi.co.uk