Oysters are no longer as abundant as they used to be in New York, but you can still find plenty of the bivalve delicacies at bars and restaurants on the Lower East Side. That was readily apparent Sunday as a host of local chefs and cooks showed off their shucking skills so that 24 brave souls could prove how quickly they could slurp down a couple dozen. We were there for all the shucking and jiving. Check out the techniques on display in our video– as well as some advice from current reigning champion, Terrence Ruggiero, who managed to eat almost one oyster per second. He finished his plate in 29 seconds.
No, this wasn’t (all) for some silly shell game. The establishments involved, including Grey Lady (where the competition was hosted), The Ten Bells, Claw Daddy and Hotel Chantelle, say they want to spread sustainable seafood awareness and general oyster love in the nabe. This is just the first of many oyster-centric events they’re organizing with the LES Partnership (formerly BID). Callum McLaughlin, co-owner of the Grey Lady, said they hope to bring back the oyster street carts of yore with a Pickle Day-esque oyster fair this summer. So if you hope to prove your oyster slurping mettle at the next opportunity, you’ll want to hear Ruggiero’s advice.
Correction: A previous version stated incorrectly that the restaurants are supporting the Billion Oyster Project. The group was in attendance, but solely to participate in the shucking competition.