Jeff Northrop left his job in the finance world to sell oysters, and now this 25-year-old is supplying briny mollusks from his family's oyster beds in Connecticut to some of the city's top restaurants. Eventually he plans to take his business background to start a hedge fund to fund sustainable oyster and seafood production. Jeff took some time to share his thoughts on oysters with Serious Eaters.
Name: Jeff Northrop
Occupation: New York Oyster Company
Location: Westport, CT
When you were growing up, did you ever think you'd join the family business? Nope. I was always interested in the business world. But I saw the opportunity to make money doing something that my family had started and that it was scaleable to a large degree—after modeling out the financials of the oyster business I came to the conclusion that it could be very lucrative.
Do you have a recommendation for a "starter" oyster for those who claim not to like them? Perhaps a West Coast oyster such as the Tornado Cove or Royal Miyagi which taste less like the ocean and a bit more buttery and mild than your Virginica oyster or even the distinctive taste of the famous Kumamoto from Humboldt Bay. Whichever oyster it is, just take the plunge!
What makes your production sustainable? Our organic production and aquaculture techniques don't compromise the ability of future generations harvest oysters abundantly from the same waters. Good stewardship of the marine environment has allowed for consistent harvest, scalable operations, and lower costs. Oyster aquaculture by nature is sustainable farming at its best—oysters clean the water as they grow and benefit the ecosystem in numerous additional ways.
How did you and your family educate yourself about cultivating oysters? Books, experts, websites. My family had been growing oysters about a hundred years ago in the same place in Westport, and there is significant history going back to around 1857.
Do you have a favorite type of oyster? What do you put on them when you eat them? Our very own Hummock Island Pearl oyster is my favorite and is served best without any sort of dressing—the freshness is such that you don't need any seasoning.