Shucking Excellence: Alberta Oyster Fest Hits Rodney’s in Support of Mealshare

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Shucking Excellence: Alberta Oyster Fest Hits Rodney’s in Support of Mealshare

On the list of things that Alberta is known for, “seafood” does not often appear. Thank goodness for Rodney’s Oyster House and its commitment to bringing this landlocked city great seafood, and to celebrating the culture that comes along with it.

On Sunday, June 23rd, Rodney’s Oyster House hosted the Third-annual Alberta Oyster Festival, a family-friendly foodie event that celebrates everyone’s favourite bivalve. There were hand-mixed cocktails featuring local Eau Claire Distillery’s vodka and gin, bubbles (of course), Steamwhistle pilsner, cherished seafood snacks like lobster rolls and crab cakes and endless plates of oysters. There was even locally-made, chef-crafted ice cream from Calgary’s Frozen Assets to cap off the culinary experience.

Proceeds from the event were donated to Mealshare, a not-for-profit committed to fighting youth hunger. They partner with more than 100 restaurants in Calgary and with several local charities, including the Drop-In Centre and the Boys and Girls Club of Calgary. When a restaurant-goer orders a dish off the menu with the Mealshare symbol, the participating restaurant donates $1 to Mealshare, which they direct to partner charities to fund the costs of providing meals for children and youth. “Rodney’s has been a great partner for us, and this event has been such a success – we hope to top the $6,000 we raised last year,” says Mona Pinder, Calgary Community Leader.

“It’s part brute force and part ballet mixed with some secret agent type stuff.” – Bekah Angoff, Pangea Shellfish Company

The main event was the Oyster Shucking Competition, which, well folks, it was serious. As Bekah Angoff of the Pangea Shellfish Company describes shucking:

“It’s part brute force and part ballet mixed with some secret agent type stuff.” – Bekah Angoff, Pangea Shellfish Company

As it turns out, that is pretty accurate. Speed and strength are important, but preserving the integrity of the oyster, making sure there are no bits of shell to interfere with the taste experience, preserving the delicious oyster “liquor,” and presentation all count in competitive oyster shucking.

Find the “lollipop spot” in the hinge of the oyster’s shell (so it looks like a lollipop on top of your shucking knife), and the rest is a snap.

Rob Stewart, also known as @shuckeryyc, was at the helm of the oyster bar and would be competing in the “pro” competition. He says he’s been in “more than a dozen and fewer than 50” shucking competitions. His secret? Find the “lollipop spot” in the hinge of the oyster’s shell (so it looks like a lollipop on top of your shucking knife), and the rest is a snap. The winner of the Alberta Oyster Festival competition will be off to the Canadian competition in PEI’s Tyne Valley this summer.

In addition to the pros, there was also a fun amateur competition. Last year’s champ, Vivian, was back to defend her title. Her 2018 victory was also an important milestone personally – when she was presented with the trophy, there was an engagement ring inside, and her now fiancé popped the question. High stakes indeed!

This year’s amateur competition had three heats of four shuckers each, and their task was to select four west-coast and four east-coast oysters, and shuck six for presentation to the judges (How does one get THAT job?). East Coast was rep’d by Lameque Oysters from Chaisson Oyster Farms in Baie de Chaleur, NB, West Coast brought Taylor Shellfish’s Sun Seekers from Fanny Bay BC. Mike Attersal, owner of Victoria Park Crossfit by day, and crack oyster shucker by night, took first place.

The team at Rodney’s Oyster House put on a great afternoon for the seafood lovers of Calgary while raising $6,450 for Mealshare, making sure Calgary kids and youth get healthy meals. Everyone wins!

The pros had a decidedly strenuous task – choose 20 oysters (10 east, 10 west) and shuck 18. With three heats, a semi-final and a final, there was a lot of excitement in the room as Jom Merrill of Vancouver BC bested Callum Shiu to claim the title and the opportunity to compete in PEI.

The team at Rodney’s Oyster House put on a great afternoon for the seafood lovers of Calgary while raising $6,450 for Mealshare, making sure Calgary kids and youth get healthy meals. Everyone wins!

Visit rodneysoysterhouse.com/calgary/ for more great seafood-related events, and check out mealshare.ca/en/find-a-restaurant/to learn which restaurants offer Mealshare choices on their menu.

By |2019-07-02T14:54:08-06:00July 1st, 2019|Events, Restaurants|0 Comments

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