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British Columbia Oyster Festival preview at Grand Central Oyster Bar & Restaurant

Jean-Philippe – I Just Want To Eat

December 17, 2018

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Yesterday, I was invited by the British Columbia Seafood Festival to slurp some oysters at the Grand Central Oyster Bar & Restaurant, and meet international oyster shucking champion and Guinness Book World Record holder Patrick McMurray aka Shucker Paddy.

Shucker Paddy has been in this business since 1992 and swears that he is not tired of it, to the contrary, and is not even sick of eating oysters. He is in the Guiness Book of Records for having shucked 38 oysters in 1 minute. One minute is probably the time it takes me to first figure out where to insert the knife before trying to open one single oyster…And wearing a glove to protect your hand is not just for the profane: Shucker Paddy wears a stainless steel glove after cutting himself with a knife in the past.

Three kinds of oysters were showcased:

  • Sawmill Bay Oysters, from the Sawmill Bay Shellfish Company, a family owned business, where the Pocock Family produces shellfish from glacier-fed waters off Read Island in British Columbia, in an environmentally sustainable and ethical manner. These were large oysters, with a moderate salinity.
  • Mac’s Oysters, a third generation producers, the McLellan family produces sustainable oysters in Fanny Bay. I did not know in fact that Joseph McLellan is a renown pioneer in the oyster aquaculture, importing seeds from Japan after WWII and creating a major industry in the region. With their smooth flavor, their level of salinity varies.
  • Pacific Rim Oysters from Pacific Rim Shellfish Corp. (The Lobster Man), a company established in 1977 that works directly with producers. These were the smallest of the 3.

There were others like the royal Miyagi or the Totten Virginica, an East Coast oyster that is farmed on the West Coast in Southern Puget Sound, Washington. This variety was introduced to me by Executive Chef Sandy Ingber who oversees Grand Central Oyster Bar & Restaurant, with whom I had a nice chat about oysters.

Needless to say that I was full of oysters to the point where I wonder if a shell will grow on my back…I love oysters in any way: naked, with a bit of lemon (but not too much as you want to be able to taste it), baked or fried. Trying different ones at the same time is great because you can really taste the difference: some are meatier than others, or even briner. Specialists can also determine flavors like cucumber, lettuce or butter, but I admit that I am not there yet! And I am glad that I got to chat a bit with Shucker Paddy and Executive Chef Sandy Ingber who truly showed some passion from what they are doing.

Enjoy (I did)!

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