Meet our Head Chef Andy Richardson
What does sustainable and ethical mean to you?
All sorts of things, from when seafood it caught to how much of it is caught. If you’re going to call yourself ethical and sustainable you really need to commit to the idea, which we do. For example, we use line caught fish usually, and if they are caught in netting we’re specific about the type of netting. The idea is that you’re selecting the fish and giving the little ones a chance to grow – the nets are more regulated now so that the smaller ones can escape. Several things have come off our menu in the last couple of years including tuna and wild turbot because they are now over fished and endangered. When we do serve turbot we do our research to make sure it’s ethically farmed. We also support the National Lobster Hatchery in Padstow which is a world leading conservation charity.
How do you decide on the menu each day?
It all stems from talking to our suppliers. I get three or four telephone calls a day about what’s good on the market and what’s been landed, which often depends on the weather. In terms of fruit and veg, we grow a lot of our own on site and we do a lot of foraging, so the menu is heavily influenced by what’s in season.
What made you want to build your own fish smoker?
The hand built wood smoker is made with reclaimed wood and can be used for hot or cold smoking. It means that all the smoked seafood can now be produced in house using traditional techniques and traditional preservatives like salt and sugar. It means that the fish is less oily and has a more delicate flavour because we can determine how long we cook it for, it’s lighter, not overpowered. It’s also fresher, we know that it’s produced each day without any additives. Also, you use far less packaging which is important for sustainability.
What do you like to do when you’re not cooking up a feast at The Oyster Shack?
I enjoy cycling and simply being a dad to my little boy Jacob.
Lastly and most importantly, how do you eat your oysters?
I chew them to get the most from the taste.
Having joined The Oyster Shack team in 2014, Head Chef Andy is a pioneer of ethical sourcing and using local, sustainable produce, but we’ll let him tell you all about that…
What made you want to be a chef?
I was either going to be a chef or a fighter pilot, but when I was 12 my mum got me a pestle and mortar and a pasta machine for my birthday and that kind of clinched the deal. When she came home from work I had made pasta for tea – there was flour up the curtains and everywhere else you can imagine. I think she was pleased with the pasta but not the mess.
Where do your culinary influences come from?
Travelling mostly. I worked in Barcelona in Spain and in mainland Greece near Olympia. I bring those influences to The Shack and combine with great local produce on the outdoor grill, utilizing the oldest and best ways of cooking seafood. London markets are also a big influence; the produce markets at Billingsgate, Covent Garden and Smithfields in particular. There they teach methodologies that we have brought in here about putting ingredients first and then deciding what you want to do with it on the menu rather than the other way around. A lot of big restaurants do their ordering online now rather than seeing the ingredients first hand, I don’t work like that, I like to see the ingredients.
What ethos have you developed in the menu for The Oyster Shack menu?
I’m passionate about sustainability, keeping things simple, and using seasonal and local produce wherever possible. Those are the cornerstones of the Shack menu. We work extremely hard to meet those standards, which is why the menu is updated daily with whatever’s been landed locally and what fruit and veg is in season.