Julie Qiu is an international oyster expert and founder of In A Half Shell, an oyster appreciation website and community. Based in Brooklyn, New York (but will travel anywhere for oyster adventures), Julie shares her knowledge and love of half shell culture through masterclasses, bespoke events, original digital content, and products designed for like-minded oyster enthusiasts. She leads the New York Oyster Lovers Meetup community and hosts Oyster Omakase Tasting Club pop-up events. As a self-described Oyster Sommelier, Julie has been covered by Vogue, Food & Wine, The Chicago Tribune, USA Today, NPR, Huffington Post, Tech Insider, and Somebody Feed Phil on Netflix.
In the process of discovering her passion for oysters and sustainable seafood, Julie cultivated over 10 years of branding and marketing experience at leading creative agencies in New York City, working on some of the world’s most iconic brands, including Jaguar, Starwood Hotels, State Farm, Anheuser-Busch, and ExxonMobil. In 2015, Julie’s interest in the future of seafood led her to the Sustainable Seafood Blog Conference in New Orleans, where she met Australis Aquaculture’s CEO, Josh Goldman. This encounter ultimately led her to help amplify Australis’ mission for Climate-Smart Ocean Farming as their full-time Marketing Director.
I grew up in the midwest, but am really a coastal city gal by heart. I enjoy most seafood, but there’s something different about oysters. They embody a sense of place. Many are painstakingly hand-crafted. And an exceptional few are, dare I reveal, alive when you eat them. They are both humble and provocative. They’re sustainable. They’re nutritious. What is not to love?
While working in advertising in my early 20’s, I started a blog that explored everything food-related. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I had a thing for oysters, and thought, “Would it be possible to focus exclusively to oysters?” A creative colleague suggested the name In A Half Shell, and amazingly, the URL wasn’t taken.
Since that fateful day in 2009, my bivalve curiosity has taken me around the globe and on all sorts of oyster escapades—inside hatcheries, out on the tidal flats, and at the chef’s table. In A Half Shell began as a personal quest of becoming an oyster connoisseur that gradually turned into a calling. My goal today is to help fellow oyster lovers cultivate a better half shell experience, for themselves and others, wherever they go.
My Oyster Bucket List
Visit Australia’s Oyster Coast of NSW and shuck my own oysters
Visit an oyster farm in Tasmania
Attend the Bluff Oyster Festival in New Zealand
Hang out at the Knysna Oyster Festival in South Africa
Visit French oyster country (this might take 1 month) — Normandy, Brittany, Marennes-Oléron
Explore a Croatian oyster farm
Visit oyster farms and friends of the United Kingdom
Hang out with my favorite Canadian oyster friends in Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver
Visit the oyster farmers of North Carolina
And South Carolina
Visit oyster farms in China
Return to Japan and sample oysters from across the country
Finally make my way to the Western Bay of the Chesapeake
Four words: Hama Hama Oyster Rama
Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick oyster land visit needs to happen as well
Teach an oyster master class abroad
Take an oyster master class abroad
Dive for oysters with Glidden Point Oyster Farm
Do a podcast about oysters
An "Oyster Sommelier" on the Best Oysters Around the World - Here Magazine
Oyster Mythbusting: Debunking 5 Common Misconceptions - Serious Eats
Choose your oyster: Hot and buttered, or cold and decked with caviar - The Chicago Tribune
Your Guide to Ordering and Pairing Oysters - Morsel by Plated
12 sommeliers tasting things other than wine - USA Today
All About Oysters with Julie Qiu - At the Table Podcast
6 Sources for Super-Fresh Mail-Order Oysters - Food & Wine