As the duo that has arguably brought oysters into the restaurant scene mainstream, Hancock and Wright have more reason than most to claim that oysters – once seen exclusively as the stuffy, high-end, iced (and, let’s be honest, slimy) accompaniment to overly-expensive Champagne ‒ have had a real makeover.
Having first began operating in 2002 as a wholesaler, and with four London restaurants (plus The Ferryboat Inn near the farm in Cornwall, although that part of the business is to be sold imminently) already, the group is poised to reveal details on two more London sites in the next couple of months, and there are already a further two in the pipeline.
The group is also keen to appeal to the younger demographic, with its new 'Shuck' venture, which is entirely aimed at the casual, relaxed, Millennial market. Serving street-food style fried oyster dishes (as the duo say, who doesn't like something deep fried with a dipping sauce?), it has already proven itself as a success at the group’s pop-ups of the same name. It is this creativity and willingness to branch out from the traditional oyster serving traditions that has arguably been key to the Brothers' success.
Established as a key wholesaler supplying well over 100 businesses from their Duchy farm in Cornwall, the group also offers restaurant and pub chefs an unprecedented choice of up to 15 different kinds of oysters, each with different flavours and sourcing notes.
Factors include recipe suitability (e.g. how will the oysters be used – will they be served raw, deep-fried or dressed?), seasonality, where they come from, the salinity of the water, and the all-important quality and texture.
It’s an impressive trajectory for a duo who only began the business after Wright became interested in French oysters and suppliers while living across the Channel over 15 years’ ago.
And now, as a key proponent of sustainability, with oyster farming said to be at the forefront of eco-friendly practices, The Wright Brothers looks astonishingly of the zeitgeist. Pretty surprising for a company focused on - as they readily admit themselves - what was once seen as a rather old-fashioned food.
Ahead of its new plans to expand and diversify, we caught up with the 'Wright Brothers' themselves to chat about re-inventing the oyster’s legacy, capturing new markets, and their ambitious aim of getting a Wright Brothers oyster on every single menu...
Head chef Richard Kirkwood also features, demonstrating oyster shucking and preparing a classic fish dish. Watch this space for a dish demonstration with him at Wright Brothers Spitalfields, coming soon