We stopped by at Fish Klub, Berlin, to meet Margaux Friocourt, oysters and seafood supplier, and taste the delicacies from her counter at the Markthalle 9, Kreuzberg. With her latest project of opening a fish butchery & shop and seafood bar in Willmersdorf, Berlin, Margaux dreams of making good food more accessible to people.
How did you develop your interest and passion for seafood & oysters?
Well, I’m French, and as you might know, in my country there is an ancient tradition of seafood consumption and oysters farming. I love oysters since I was a kid, especially the ones from my mom’s region, Bretagne. I also worked as an event manager in Berlin and met a lot of chefs throughout my career. All of them were asking me how to find good oysters. At first, my work around oysters was a side-activity, and got involved in the production of some events where I was serving oysters paired with natural wine. Soon after the opening of my business, I decided to expand my perspectives and work with other seafood ingredients. Offering just oysters turned out not to be a profitable choice for my activity, which brought me to start importing fish (fresh and dry), as well as clams or seaweeds.
What’s your favorite part of your job?
Sourcing new products, meeting fishermen. It allows me to get to know my country better. That’s why I also travel once a year along the coast to visit different farms, fish auctions, boats. I also love the process of taking part at the fish auction: getting up at 5 am, seeing the first catch of the day…and hopefully being able to get the best quality at the best price.
What do you mean with “the best quality”?
Freshness, as well as history. I am passionate about French regional products coming from old traditions. When I look for seafood in France, I mostly focus on natural oysters and on fish from coastal fishing. It is important for me to respect seasonality & natural reproductive cycles of fish, as well as to support small-scale fishermen.
What would be your tip for restaurants to serve oysters to their customers?
I like eating them raw, so I would suggest to anyone to add no lemon and concentrate on the natural taste of the product (when trying the first oyster, at least). And to focus on that flavor, try to narrate it a bit. A friend of mine calls that flavor the French kiss from the see (which is also a great way of marketing French products in restaurants!).
What is the difference between natural and wild oysters?
I visited many natural oyster productions, and their farming practices basically consist of selecting baby oysters to then growing them seasonally. Natural oysters are easier to find in France because the demand for oysters is so high that it is almost impossible to find wild oysters (“wild” as grown without human intervention). Another very common alternative in France is triploid oysters: they are a modified type, available all-year-round.
What about “oysters as aphrodisiac foods”?
Hum, I can’t give you a scientific answer to that. But well, the birth rate in France is not pretty high.
How would you compare the food scene in Berlin to the one in other cities in Europe?
The restaurant scene in Berlin is a wild world. I think that the restaurants offering interesting non-local good food specialties are mostly run by international chefs. Nonetheless, the high-end German restaurant scene in Berlin is a great place for local ingredients and traditional dishes. Instead, international chefs are more open to new fish products, luckily for me. It is important for me to find new solutions to bring good fish to local German customers (if not to chefs), especially those sustainable species that are not well-known. And I have to say that the clientele in Berlin is curious and usually open to learning more about good seafood.
What is Fish Klub focusing on at the moment?
We are working on our new opening of a fish butchery, shop, and seafood bar in Wilmersdorf, Berlin. This project is part of a new space hosting different food producers of natural wine, beer, as well as Italian food– just to mention some. Our new concept will be proposing to consumers a new way of shopping for oysters and fish in Berlin, especially in malls, focus on raw ingredients. We want to make fish consumption approachable by focusing on on-the-go options. We also want to offer products that are less “crafty”, when compared to the ones available at Fish Klub in Markthalle 9 in Kreuzberg.
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