The world is now Lucy's oyster
FOUNDER of Shuck, Northern Rivers' local Lucy Ashley, is fast becoming one of Australia's leading purveyors of premium oysters and gourmet oyster products.
Last year Shuck claimed gold for their Shuck Whole Smoked Australian Oysters and silver for their Smoked Oyster Paté at the Australian Food Awards.
"I grew up on Sydney Harbour and Dad used to take us kids around the rocks foraging for oysters,” Lucy said.
"He'd flick the tops off them with his penknife and then we'd squabble over whose turn it was to eat the next one. That's when my love of native oysters started, first as a diner, then later when I studied environmental science at SCU, and now as my business.”
The food industry is known to be competitive with a host of bureaucratic hurdles to clear but Lucy brings the skills from her previous careers to bear.
"I've come into this business later in life, so it helps that I bring skills from my work in marketing and advertising. I built the business from the ground up based on a gap in the market I identified and did it 'my way'. Shuck is pretty unique because of that.
"There are two markets for Shuck - one is for discerning chefs from fine-dining restaurants. I work with some amazing local chefs, and all of them without exception share a passion for sourcing quality produce and presenting it at its best to diners.
"The other gourmet oyster product side is a very broad church of oyster lovers, smoked oyster lovers and even non-oyster lovers who discover that they can not only eat, but love our gourmet oyster products.”
Executive chef for Elements, Byron Bay Simon Jones, is a huge fan (and client) of Shuck.
"It's simply the quality, it's superb and it's consistent. I can rely on Shuck for the freshness, the flavour, even the packaging; it's all highly professional. We are increasingly presenting Shuck oysters in a variety of ways, but however we serve them, most importantly, our diners are also appreciating the quality.”
Shuck's growth hasn't come without its challenges.
"One of the best things I heard was from celebrity chef Luke Mangan who said the best things you can learn to do is rest, rather than give up when the going gets tough.”
With its awards and growing client list, Shuck is expanding into Brisbane and up to Noosa, as well as launching in Melbourne, plus there are current negotiations with an Australian company based in Japan about getting Shuck's gourmet products into the burgeoning Japanese food market.