Oysome was founded in 2023 by Sarah Browne, one of BIM’s first Taste the Atlantic Ambassadors. The company creates bespoke oyster pairings using ingredients local to the oyster farm, with a focus on interesting, flavour forward pairings.
Sarah is passionate about sustainable food and sees aquaculture as a key component of our future food system.
In an exclusive interview with Hospitality Ireland, Sarah speaks about her best professional decisions.
This article was originally published in the Autumn 2023 issue of Hospitality Ireland Magazine, in October of 2023.
Tell us about your new project.
Well, it’s called Oysome – a combo of oyster and awesome. It’s a culinary events company focused on celebrating Irish oysters and showcasing Irish ingredients.
What is so exciting about this?
I think oysters are completely undervalued in Irish cuisine, and I aim to get as many Irish people as possible to appreciate what is truly a fantastic, sustainable Irish product.
What is unique about what you do?
Oysome doesn’t just serve oysters. We curate experiences around oysters, using foraged ingredients and other wonderful Irish suppliers to ultimately showcase a solution for sustainability in food. We want to provide a basis for protecting these real foods for the future and get as many people as possible to consume the foods we hope to protect for future generations.
Tell us about your career so far.
I grew up on a dairy farm in North Kerry, so I’ve always been surrounded by food, but kind of rejected it as a concept for what I might do for my career.
After the Leaving Cert, I went off to UCC, to study architecture, and ended up dropping out in the final year because of big struggles with anxiety and panic attacks. I had worked in kitchens and cafes over the years of being in college, and, at the time, had a job as food hall supervisor in Avoca in Moll’s Gap. I realised I had an uncommon passion for food and decided to give being a professional chef a go.
I started a pastry course in CIT and was hooked.
After this, I spent a year in Killybegs [Co. Donegal] and then became one of BIM’s Taste the Atlantic Young Chef Ambassadors. After this, I spent almost two years working in Cava Bodega, in Galway. Just this year, I completed a Level 8 in botanical cuisine at TUD. I’m now studying for a master’s in applied nutrition at TUD.
Your best professional decision?
Seeking guidance from people who have more experience whenever I need it. I’m in business by myself, which can be really isolating, but there are incredible networks through LEOs and other organisations, which I’ve tapped into and of which I can’t speak highly enough.
Being in business is as difficult as you make it, I think.
Your most challenging moment?
Probably the semester of architecture that ended in me dropping out. It was around four to six months of a sort of blur caused by anxiety and panic attacks. I was a fraction of my usual self at that time.
Your most embarrassing moment?
There are many!
Three attributes that you wish you had?
I’d love to be more organised, have more focus, and be more confident.
Your favourite pub?
The Bunch of Grapes or the Crane Bar,[both] in Galway.
Your favourite drink?
Nothing beats a creamy pint of Guinness or a cold can of Fanta the morning after one too many!
Favourite holiday destination?
Probably home, to Kerry, to be honest. I like going to see great art and eating incredible food in European cities, but there’s something really special about getting a few days at home, where the only thing on the to-do list is walking the dog.
Your worst job?
Working in a coffee shop chain, which I won’t name!
What was so bad about it?
It was just a super-toxic environment, which came from management. Everyone seemed to be out to get one another, and the concept of a team working together was non-existent.
If you could do any other job – apart from the job that you are doing now – what would it be, and why?
Actually, I would love to transition into a form of food-growing at some stage. I’d like to start making really good cheese and grow organic veg as well.
Any pet hates?
I find it really frustrating when people refuse to try something or say they hate something they’ve never tasted. You’re just closing yourself off from a world of experiences, and because of what? Fear?
Your business motto?
Oysome prides itself on gathering the best flavours from across the Emerald Isle and bringing them together with premium oysters from our pristine seas.
The best advice that you ever received?
You don’t have to tell everyone everything.
With which fictional character do you most identify?
Winnie-the-Pooh, especially in the story where he goes to give Eeyore a pot of honey for his birthday, but eats it all on the way. He gives the empty pot to Eeyore as ‘a useful pot to put things in’ instead.
Name one thing that you always have in your refrigerator.
Milk, butter, and a kombucha SCOBY.