#8 Meeting : Adrien Legris

Ode to the land in the land of shellfish

From whisky to oyster, there is a world of difference? But on closer inspection, the distance between the small Breton SME Huîtres Legris and the House of Benjamin Kuentz is not so great. And it is quite natural that the Legris establishment has come to offer two references from the young publisher Kuentz, to accompany the tasting of its sea jewels. What they share is first of all a love of a land and its shores, Brittany, where Le Guip, a very iodized whisky, named after a shipyard in Brest, was born in the collection of the Maison Benjamin Kuentz. But also the desire to produce a quality craftwork, in which man, nature and time find to dialogue harmoniously. And perhaps above all, the idea that we must defend the diversity of the terroirs, of the tastes and histories, against uniformity at all costs.

For the Legris family, oyster farming is a family history and an adventure that is written between land and sea, on the side of the Bay of Saint-Cava, sheltered by the Island of Wrac’h in Finistère.

Founded by Legris père in 1986, the family business came to oyster farming by the back door. Emmanuel, a biologist by training like his son Adrien, first devoted his days and nights to clams. Affected by a bacterium, the breeding of the small crustacean ends after four years of hard work. The company then turned to oyster farming, which became the core business of the company in 1990 and a profession practiced with passion, one of the trademarks of the company. Adrien Legris’ enthusiasm, following in his father’s footsteps, does not disappoint. He praises the newfound creativity in the oyster market, which has become very competitive and dynamic: “Oyster farmers are promoting the qualities of their terroir and their know-how, and this is also shaking up the wholesalers. It’s an exciting time”.

He likes to remind us that Legris oysters are unique, revealing the secret of this typical taste without any hesitation. First of all, there is the exceptional and monopolistic geographical situation of the Legris breeding parks. The Legris oysters all grow in the same place, which gives them a unity of flavour, at the gates of the Atlantic Ocean and on the borders of the Channel, in the Lilia Archipelago. The site, which benefits from a tidal range of nine meters sees, its water which rarely exceeds 16 °, renewed twice a day. Perfect weather conditions. It is in this cradle naturally stirred by the swell that they will grow for 3 to 5 years and perfect this iodized taste, an oceanic signature. By fixing a lot of plankton, their flesh gains extremely powerful aromas and a fleshy, tonic texture, a sign that they have taken the time to develop by resisting the “attacks” of the sea. Adrien Legris is proud of his strong Breton character and soul.

But if time is certainly a factor explaining the quality of the Legris products, the art of the gesture does the rest: year after year, the bags containing the oysters are turned over and shaken by hand once a month. “It’s a job you learn on the job,” confesses the New Zealand biology graduate, a rather unusual profile in the profession, he says in passing. The watchword is humility, which must govern any activity that works on living things,” Adrien Legris likes to remind us.

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