London Oyster Week aims to celebrate and highlight those at the shucking coal face in the city of London. It's a skill, a passion and quite often an obsession.
Part ritual, part meditation the perfect shuck takes time and focus.
Meet the guys and gals shucking across the city of London. Get in touch if you have a favourite shucker you want to see featured or you'd like to feature yourself.
Name: Sam Jezard
Company: Oysterman Sam LTD
Venue: Anywhere required, but can be found day to day shucking oysters for 7th generation oysterman Richard Haward at his stall in Borough Market.
Oyster Appellations? West Mersea Rock Oysters/Colchester Natives.
Most Oysters Shucked in one session? 1200
Dream Oyster Destination? British Columbia
What you love most about oysters: From humble beginnings these incredible little bivalves have played a massive part in the history of civilisation. Plus they taste pretty amazing too!
Conor John Pearson/The Oyster Boy
Company: Oyster Boy Events
Venue: We have street food stalls in Columbia Road, Broadway, Portobello and a newly opened Deptford Market.
We have a residency at Chiltern Firehouse in Marylebone, as well as a mobile Oyster Bar called the ‘Hangover Hospital’ which operates out of a beautifully restored 1951 Daimler ambulance.
On our market stalls we primarily work with our favourite West Mersea Rock oysters from Richard Haward in Colchester.
However, at Chiltern and at many of our private events we serve oysters from around the world and at our tasting sessions we act as Oyster sommeliers, talking to our guests about the vast differences in oysters found on opposite sides of the world and from farms only miles down the coast.
Most Oysters Shucked in one session?
A private event for a London based record label in 2016. One of my shuckers got held up last minute and I shucked, plated and served around 700 oysters solo in just under 2 hours. Sore wrists for the Oyster Boy but the party afterwards made up for it.
Dream Oyster Destination?
I’ve visited and loved a number of Oysters farms around the UK and in Europe but haven’t made it further afield yet.
There are so many amazing locations and passionate Oyster farmers that it’s difficult to narrow down the dream…
However, after meeting a fun pack of young shuckers from New Orleans recently and hearing about the culture, pace of life and love of food, I would say that it’s a destination I’d love to experience for both the oysters themselves and the musical world surrounding them.
What you love most about oysters:
Their sheer range and incredible history. It’s said that you can trace early human coastal settlements by the abundance of oysters and many great cities grew from those roots. On a personal level as a Londoner, I love that a once staple working class food is now appreciated as a healthy and nutritious delicacy by the most boojy of crowds.
I also love introducing oysters to first timers. The simplicity of their flavour on your first try which gradually gives way to the subtleties and complexities of a thousand different tastes and textures from location to location… I often compare oysters to coffee or whisky. The first time you try coffee, it’s bitter. The first time you try whiskey it burns. It’s not until you continue and experiment that you find the hidden depth of character in their taste, and this is doubly true of oysters.
Name: Katy Davidson
Venue: Wherever you need oysters and expert unbiased oyster culture info, I am an unofficial ambassador for as many oyster appellations as I can taste! London venues so far include, Soho House, Maida Hill Market, Taste of London, Real Food Festival, Bentley's Oyster Bar.
Oyster Appellations? I work with all of the Appellations that I can, I’ve curated and presented events like the Great British Oyster Festival at the Southampton Boat Show in 2011-12 where we shared 10 oyster appellations from around the country over 10 days. I also profile oysters on my website from all around the UK driving the culture behind the development of an Ostrelier qualification, along the same lines as a sommelier for wine.
Most Oysters Shucked in one session? 5000 over 2.5 days at Slow Fish in Genoa, I know that’s over a couple of days but it felt like we didn’t stop! However I am a big fan of the ritual of shucking, taking time and making it the best shuck ever.
Dream Oyster Destination? I’ve been lucky enough to visit many dream oyster destinations, making it a priority when I travel to be near the ocean and oyster territory. I think one of my best memories was eating oysters in Mozambique back in 1995 when they were a free bar snack at a tiny little bamboo beach bar, miles from anywhere. From source I’ve had Acapulco oysters (Mexico), Galician Oysters (Spain), Saharan Oysters (Huitres Kandy, Morocco), Tomales Bay Oyster Farm (California), wild Crassostrea rhizophorae (Trinidad), A ton of US oysters from both East & West Coast at Grand Central Oyster Bar and venues in California. My big mission is to get to Australia, New Zealand and Tasmania to taste their delights!
What you love most about oysters: I had my first when I was 12, a rather long time ago, and the experience stayed with me for life, instigating my personal oyster crusade that has seen me spend the last 12+ years campaigning to raise awareness of oyster culture in the UK.
The unique passion that oysters evoke and the shared stories of oyster life always make me smile.
I had an instinctive feeling about oysters when I first started buying them regularly online from Loch Fyne when I was at university in the late 90’s (I sacrificed student nights out and clothes for this luxury!), I felt that they were somehow more than the sum of their parts, and the more i’ve learnt about them over the years, in terms of nutrition, health, vitality sustainability, history, culture and community, the more these instinctive feelings have been given form and fact, I now pass on this learning and have trained hundreds of people to shuck their own.