Now That’s an Oyster!
By Duke Moscrip
Just kidding . . . this five-year-old oyster is bigger than anyone would ever want to slurp, even me. But they are perfect for show. Last week, “Wild” Bill Ranniger, our executive chef, and chefs from our seven restaurants joined me for an oyster-seeking adventure in Raymond, Washington.
Pacific Seafood, the only oyster producers we use for our Bellevue Duke’s Seafood & Chowder Oyster Bar, gave us a tour of their oyster beds and a first-hand look inside their plant.
Growing oysters is no easy task, and it’s done three ways:
- Workers string basket or cage-raised oysters in long rows in the oyster beds. Baby oysters tumble with the tides as they grow to the perfect size and shape. These are the ones we serve at our Bellevue Oyster Bar.
- Oysters for shucking at the plant and ready for recipes grow on long lines in the beds. This process leads to clusters of oysters that don’t look great but taste delicious. Farmers hand-tie and hand-harvest these beauties and, man, is it a lot of work!
- Finally, ground beds grow some of the biggest oysters, and at harvest time harvesters gather some 3000 dozen. They can get one semi-truck load in 4 – 6 hours!
Talk about hard work! Amazing is the best description for these people who do this work every day to bring us fresh, delicious oysters. Shucking happens in rows upon rows of hard-working people with years of experience. Honestly, I’ve never seen oysters shucked so fast or perfectly before. These people are master shuckers. The oyster shells make for dirty work, but the precious jewel inside is treated like gold.
Once shucked and cleaned, individual workers sort each oyster by size. Then they are finally ready for packaging, which is also done by hand.
Every stage of this process is critical to producing the best-tasting and freshest oysters on Earth. That’s why the people at Pacific Seafood have earned the rank of a DukeWorthy partner. They get every step right: from the growing conditions to the exceptional care in harvesting to the speedy packaging and delivery.
Stop by our new Bellevue location in Lincoln Square South to try some of these delicious beauties. Our oyster bar awaits you.
On the Beds