The Picklery is a Hackney-born business making a wide range of pickles and preserves in small runs, focusing on seasonal produce at its peak.
Every jar screams vibrancy, is packaged immaculately and most exciting of all, extends the season of some of our favourite ingredients. The cultured volatility and wide ranging palate of flavours really resonate with some of the wines on both of our wine lists and they have been some of the most popular and requested produce on our shelves since opening the Brawn Store. You can see the full range here
We sat down with Clare Lattin, Tom Hill & Rory McCoy, founders & chef for the restaurants Raw Duck, Duck Soup & Little Duck. Now running The Picklery as well, they talked us through the past, present and future of the business.
Brawn: How long have you both been in the industry and what was your general background before setting up your restaurants?
Clare: I was in cookbook publishing prior to opening Ducksoup but have always been obsessed by the restaurant space and how they made me feel and could think of nothing else other than one day opening my own. My lack of experience and naivety in having never run a restaurant before, I suppose gave me the confidence to do it, as well as the confidence to not follow the rule book as I didn’t have one to guide me.
“We all have individual aspects that we naturally focus on and as with all the restaurants we’ve done, ideas cross over & come together in one way or another to form a collective thought”
Rory: I was born and brought up in a restaurant and hotel in the North East – my family for generations have had pubs, restaurants and music clubs. My father and his brothers made a name for themselves in the late 70’s with our family restaurant and me, being the eldest of my siblings, followed in my fathers footsteps. I had planned to eventually open somewhere in London, so I took my time and learnt the trade – working for my family, various restaurants abroad and for some of the established names in the London restaurant scene, which is where the 3 of us eventually met.
Tom: I have been cooking for around 18 years having started as a commis with no formal training and working my way up. I worked for Mitch Tonks, mark Hix and also for Ed Wilson at Terroirs before joining Clare and Rory at ducksoup.
Brawn: Could you give a brief description of how the new business was setup and how many are involved in running it today?
Clare: It’s still the same motley crew, myself, Rory and Tom .. we opened Little Duck The Picklery back in 2018 and it was intended to be our pickle experimenting kitchen and to make it work financially we would open that up to the public so that they could come in and eat our small simple menu and try what we were doing.. we were already making pickled and ferments at Rawduck but the nature of the offering there with its busy brunch services made it difficult to also operate a kitchen dedicated to pickling..
Rory: We all have individual aspects that we naturally focus on and as with all the restaurants we’ve done, ideas cross over & come together in one way or another to form a collective thought and in turn, along with inspirations from many European trips together and notably trips to Japan and California & Oregon, a new restaurant idea was formed and it had to be opened. We do not all live in london now since the world changed – we communicate most days and with a rather small team of maybe only 7 or 8 people currently, including Tom, that work the actual shifts on site.
“In a short space of time Little Duck The Picklery quickly became a busy little dining space.. These days we run the pickle side of the business alongside, still working out of the small kitchen”
Clare: We always wanted somewhere smaller, that we felt would be an extension of our own homes and space, where we often cooked and experimented. In a short space of time Little Duck The Picklery quickly became a busy little dining space.. These days we run the pickle side of the business alongside, still working out of the small kitchen.
Brawn: Was the Picklery born out of necessity to adapt or was the retail side something you saw happening as a matter of course anyway?
Clare: It was already part of our business and something we have offered for some time in the menus at Rawduck. We launched it as a line of products shortly after opening Little Duck in 2018, and its grown from here.
Rory: We started making a couple of our own very basic drinks in Ducksoup when we opened and as they progressed & certainly when Rawduck opened, we purposefully expanded the range to make a real feature of them…it was only energy , time and mental capacity holding us back..! Walk don’t run (said with hindsight)
Clare: We’ve certainly seen more sales from companies like Farmdrop during Covid times and we hope this will continue.
Brawn: Are there any ‘rules’ that govern what you will/won’t pickle or preserve?
Years ago I remember Tom fermenting some horseradish leaves for fits and giggles – they were pretty smelly and disgusting.. fermented horseradish on the other hand is delicious.
“Clare: Years ago I remember Tom fermenting some horseradish leaves for fits and giggles – they were pretty smelly and disgusting.. fermented horseradish on the other hand is delicious”
Rory: We only make things that work consistently & that don’t compromise quality, so we use fruits and vegetables that have a predictable outcome – plus since everything is unfiltered and unpasteurised, this adds another dimension of control in needing uniform finished products. We try to make drinks that are one or two ingredients as purity of the fruit or vegetable is the final goal, not so much a combined final flavour.
Tom: Yes there are been a couple of things that just didn’t ferment well like the horseradish leaves. But I think a rule we try and follow is to make the ferments interesting rather than just your standard cabbage kraut so using root vegetables like the celeriac and carrot, we also make a very tasty Indian spiced beetroot kraut with coconut and a simple fermented cauliflower with green chilli and fenu Greek seeds.
Rory: And costs, time and fiddling about! I have a whole list of drinking vinegars that I wish we could sell that run the whole year but they would cost a fortune and some of them, you need to taste 2 or 3 times daily to know when it’s ready to strain – too many variables.
Brawn: We’ll look forward to these allocation only drinking vinegars one day then Rory… Finally, what is your personal favourite product?
Clare: My favourite is the lime pickle – lime pickle and cheddar cheese on toast was a childhood favourite, then it became a hangover cure in my youth and then the combination made it to the menus with Tom making his recipe in house…..and finally we’ve jarred it!
Rory: We don’t sell it …yet ….but Sage & Mountain Tea Kombucha as these two plants grow side by side on the Greek islands and Golden Raspberry Drinking Vinegar… or maybe Gooseberry!
Tom: I very much enjoy the hipsi kimchi as we use bonito flakes which gives it a lovely smoky flavour and jalapeño chillies which are so tasty once they are fermented.
You can find our full range of Picklery products here
For more info on when the restaurants will be open again please visit the sites here: The Little Duck and Duck Soup