author. Lily Buford


"He was a brave man who first ate an oyster"

is the quote that Katy used to open her cooking demonstration, and is an opinion which she wants to dispel. What she describes as her "obsession" with oysters, began on a childhood holiday to France and has grown ever since. Katy talked frequently about how she wishes for oysters to become a more likeable food, with 47% of the British population voting them the food they were least likely to try, in 2014. When I first heard about the 'oyster lady's' talk I was completely unsure about what to expect. However, far from simply being a 'talk about oysters', Katy's passion for the reasons behind why we should be cooking with oysters was evident throughout.

Katy began the demo by making her signature 'Shipwreck Mary', her version of a Bloody Mary, it's a drink that she uses to raise awareness for "the plight of oysters". I could tell that the audience was both intruiged and appalled by the idea of 'oyster liquor' being used as a mixer.  I must admit, I shuddered at the thought. But the "ooh, that's lovely" of the audience member who was brave enough to try it, did sound genuine. Whilst making the daring drink, Katy spent much of her time taking questions from the audience and dispelling many common myths surrounding the preparation and eating of oysters. It all felt very informal, as if people were simply having a chat accross a kitchen table, but the amount of questions proved that Katy had created curiousty through her enthusiasm. 

Next up was a demonstration of how to make Katy's oyster fueled spin on a carbonara, which she described as a "brilliant way to get people to eat oysters when they may not want to". This sort of trickery certainly didn't need to be applied here, with members of the audience nearly toppling over on chairs in their bid to be the first hand raised when asked who would like to try the dish. Whilst preparing the meal, Katy went into great depth describing the nutrition and enjoyment that comes with eating oysters: "oysters are nutritious and contain dopamine, so they're a win win for taste and happiness". When Katy then began talking about how environmentally friendly eating oysters is, I really felt as if every person in the tent must have heard enough to have been converted into an oyster lover. There is even a type of veganism called 'ostroveganism', where vegan's have decided that oysters have so much nutritious and ethical value, that they're willing to eat them. Katy described this by saying "they're totally like mushrooms in a shell", which got a laugh from the entire audience, making it seem like we were all in an exclusive oyster-loving club.

I left really caring about the topic - something I had never even thought about before - and I could sense by the increasingly overflowing crowd, that many others did too. Katy's enthusiasm for nutrition, the environment and enjoyment, was inspirational. I don't think every member of the audience will run out and make a 'Shipwreck Mary' their drink of choice, but I think perhaps we will all be a little more daring with our food choices.