Interview with Bloody Oyster (Pop-Up on Southbank from 28 June 2014)
Two guys, one bus and a helluva lot of oysters - say hello to Bloody Oyster!It all started with a 1980s London routemaster. Ben Hamilton was working at the crowd funding website Zequs, while his mate Ed Ford, a chef-turned-shipbroker was working at Street Kitchen. Old friends from school days, they met in the pub one night last year, after Ben hatched a plan involving a bus “so we could travel around wherever we wanted”, and Bloody Oyster was born.
The boys found that many of their friends hadn't ever tried oysters, either because they didn't like the idea of knocking them back with tabasco, or simply couldn't afford to eat them. They devised a fun, accessible menu including ceviche, poached and grilled variants alongside a list of perfected Bloody Marys, which they tell me is known to be one of the “most complex drinks” in the bar tending world. These boys aren't afraid to experiment with flavours and techniques and they try as much as possible to use London-based drinks producers, naming Brixton Brewery and Sipsmith amongst their favourites.
Following a successful crowd funding campaign they now have their bus, aptly called Mary, so we met up with them ahead of their first major gig at Southbank's Love Festival, starting this weekend.
You couldn't have done this without raising money through crowd funding. Ben, as the expert, what's your top tip for budding entrepreneurs looking to do the same?
Ben: My top three tips are, offer incentives and rewards that benefit both your investors and yourself, get creative with your video to lure the punters in and finally, make sure you have a strong online following before you start, it makes life much easier
What's your favourite dish and drink on the current menu?
Ben: I'd have to choose the Bloody Dragon, our veggie Bloody Mary with Soy Sauce, garam masala and thai basil, alongside the Bloody Mary Oyster, a poached oyster with tomato compote and bacon bread crumb
Ed: This is like picking between your children! I'd have to go for the Bloody Maria, our tequila version shaken with rosemary smoke, and the Po'boy, our answer to an oyster burger
What's the weirdest thing you have ever eaten?
Ben: Rocky mountain oysters (For anyone who doesn't know, there is nothing remotely fishy about them…)
Ed: Cows Brain at The Street Kitchen, the texture was gross
Ok, so now we know who's the brains and who's the balls of the project…
If you were stranded on a desert island, what would be your one dish?
Ed: ‘A celebration of tuna', which includes tuna tartar and seared tuna. Incidentally this is also my go-to date dish
Ben: It would have to be a rare Beef Wellington
Ed, as the chef, what's your top kitchen tip?
Always have good quality salt. I like to use Maldon Sea Salt
And what are your favourite flavour pairings with oysters?
You can't go wrong with lime juice, orange, tomato, chilli, coriander and avocado
Finally, who are your foodie heroes?
Ben: I don't really have a food hero, but my crowd funding hero from the food and drink world is Good and Proper Tea
Ed: Tom Kerridge or Michelle Roux Snr