For the 60th anniversary of the International Agricultural Show, Mediterranean oysters come to the table

For the 60th anniversary of the International Agricultural Show, Mediterranean oysters come to the table

Laurent Arcella in full preparations at the Atelier & CO, his shellfish farming farm in Loupian in Hérault. FREE NOON – Y. PO.

For the 60th anniversary of the International Agricultural Show, Mediterranean oysters come to the table

Les préparatifs avant de partir pour le Salon de l'agriculture. MIDI LIBRE – Y. PO.

Les mas conchylicoles de Méditerranée ont, pour la plupart, été sauvés de la déroute grâce aux espaces de dégustation. Laurent Arcella, installé à Loupian sur le bassin de Thau est un précurseur.

"If I wasn't engaged in the tasting, I wouldn't be here to talk to you". Laurent Arcella is the cash type. A well-established style from this trained sailor and shellfish farmer. He is a fine connoisseur of the art of cultivating Mediterranean oysters.

He has been based in his shellfish farming farm in Loupian since 1997 and has experienced the heydays as well as the hard knocks of a profession so marked by climatic hazards. What can we say about this norovirus which destroyed Arcachon oysters during the Christmas holidays, but with it, all oysters, including the healthiest.

L'Workshop & CO is one of the best tables

Ten years ago, out of hunch and an innate sense of business, he rushed into a gap: that of being able to have the fruit of his production tasted on site. The place is idyllic. The Thau basin is a marvelous site. Bathed in an almost divine light, the farmhouse faces the imposing Mont Saint-Clair which watches over Sète.

Regulationally, he is among the first to understand that he can taste local products and cook the shellfish that he produces. That he can also sell local wines. The Workshop & Co will become one of the best restaurants in the lagoon as it is difficult, in high season, to find a place there.

Opening from winter holidays

But nothing was gained at the very beginning. As a precursor, he will need the approval and goodwill of his banker to ensure the transformation. Then ? "We had to roll up our sleeves and work like hell". Nothing to scare him. The first year, he will generate 20,000 € of turnover. Double that the following year. Today, "tasting represents 90% of my turnover".

The Mediterranean Cooperative

The Regional Committee for Mediterranean Shellfish Culture (CRCM) will be well represented at the 60th International Agricultural Show. "It’is the place where, traditionally, we say what we are doing and what we are going to do", smiles Fabrice Grillon-Gaborit who manages the sector strategy .

This is the opportunity to present the Mediterranean oyster, the only one to be produced on rope. It is also the opportunity to participate in the general agricultural competition. In Paris, the CRCM will also present the latest tool available: the Shellfish Growers' Cooperative, created less than a year ago, whose president is Laurent Arcella. Its first mission will be to obtain from the authorities a Red Label for Mediterranean oysters.

Laurent Arcella continues to produce 80 to 100 tonnes of oysters per year depending on the year. When it first started, this space only opened in July and August. Today, in the month of February, as it prepares to join the Agricultural Show, the teams are working to open the place very quickly. Every lunchtime first. Then middays and evenings in summer. "We have very nice days during the school holidays" which stretch over six weeks.

"An ultra-resilient profession"

A way to deal with climate change which has impacts on this fragile Thau basin. "In summer, the pond can rise to 30 °C". Not ideal for oyster production: "We will be able to adapt, we are an ultra-resilient profession", says the shellfish farmer.

Among the innovations, Laurent Arcella is thinking of transhuming oysters. Move them whenever necessary. We will have to innovate and invest again and Laurent Arcella will be able to talk about it with his verve at the Salon where he will make thousands of guests eat his products which will, without doubt, hold a candle to his competitors…

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