Here on Guernsey not only are we surrounded by beautiful scenery, but we’re also surrounded by a variety of incredible producers, growers, (sea) farmers and brewers providing us with delicious food and drink.
And, let’s face it, there has never been a more important time to support local than now; so we thought that we’d share some of their stories.
So, we caught up with the lovely Charlotte and Justin from Herm and Guernsey Oysters.
How did you first get started in the oyster business?
We came from Jersey four years ago; Justin, my partner, had managed an oyster farm there and after spending a few years in other fishing related businesses, always wanted to return to oyster farming.
We looked at various places in the UK, Ireland and further afield, then fate intervened. I was in Guernsey, helping a friend with an event at Beau Séjour, when I was introduced to a chap who was selling an oyster farm at Rocquaine.
While discussing that prospect, we then found out that Herm Oysters Ltd was looking for new owners and the rest, as they say, is history!
What has been your greatest achievement?
There are so many things that I am proud of, but I think the stand out achievement has been the work that Justin and the boys have completed on the farm sites.
The Herm site was a terrible mess when we took it over and it took a long time for Justin to get it organised, safe and working as it should be.
It is such a jaw-droppingly beautiful location the farm now compliments the coastline and is really an achievement to be proud of.
What’s been your biggest lesson?
I don’t think I had really imagined how hard it would be to start our own business and survive!
The challenges you face when you start something like this, especially in an industry that is so weather affected; I am sure that looking back we would have started out with a different approach.
But, as with all businesses, I am not sure there is only one lesson, just an acceptance that you will keep learning throughout the journey. Decisions are made, things change, and you need to learn, grow, and move on.
What is your signature dish?
I’d have to say any of the oysters that we serve to others at public and private events onboard one of our oyster bars; HMS Oyster, HMS Champagne Doris, or with T/T HMS Oyster.
Generally in that environment, we serve our oysters au natural, as they are, with a squeeze of fresh lemon or a splash of tabasco.
It is one of my greatest pleasures to shuck an oyster for someone who has never tried before and is determined to hate it – only to watch them come back and order a platter because it was the best thing they had ever eaten!
What’s the best way to enjoy your oysters?
That has to be down to personal taste! I have countless recipes for oysters, raw, grilled, BBQ’d, with sauce, stewed and in pies!
Everyone I meet seems to have a different slant on how to enjoy them and we haven’t found a combination we haven’t liked yet!
Mikey from Octopus has produced some amazing combinations with other local produce, the Rocquettes cider was a winner and I do have some regulars at our events that are partial to an oyster with a splash of Wheadons gin!
Where’s you’re favourite place to eat out in the Bailiwick?
Me – Octopus, Justin – Le Petit Bistro, we love The Catch too. As we are residents there, Saltwater at Beaucette is another local of ours and we love Balthazar for its awesome tapas and cocktails.
When you’re not working, you can be found…?
It’s a pretty rare occurrence, but mostly enjoying the company of our best friends who also happen to be our neighbours, sat in the sunshine with something cold and fizzy, in our beautiful marina surroundings.
What do you love most about Guernsey and Herm?
We passed our four-year anniversary of relocating in February, and I am not sure we have found anything we don’t like yet!
I love the way of life that Guernsey provides like Jersey was when I was a child. Unpretentious, unspoilt, friendly and pretty quiet.
I love the unspoilt coastline, the honesty of hedge veg, the view into Saints Bay, and the people.
Since we arrived we have been greeted by nothing but warmness and a desire to be friendly from all those we have met.