Great NYC Shuck 'N Suck

Water Taxi Beach, South Street Seaport: the perfect scene for a 6,500 all-you-can-eat oyster free-for-all, a tag-team Shuck 'n Suck contest, and a series of short films about the beloved bivalve.


This was the stage for my third and final oyster adventure. The Food Film Festival's premier event, The Great NYC Shuck 'N Suck, was a multi-sensory homage to the oyster. However, the last time that such a quantity of oysters were in this location was probably in the late 18th century! An acoustic and strings folk band jived up the atmosphere, while I tried to get my hands on as many Beausoleils, Malpeques and Watch Hills as I could without looking like a massive pig.

Paper containers were stacked neatly throughout all of the oyster serving stations. Expert restaurant shuckers madly rushed to replenish the ice-covered serving trays, but their efforts were all too easily plundered by gobbling oyster-lovers. The earthy Beausoleils from New Brunswick were my favorite. Back in February, I found this type to be a rather complex oyster to enjoy. Now equipped with more experience, it was quite easy to love these briny and delicate gems.

After everyone had slurped their fill, the Shuck 'n Suck competition took to the stage. Jimmy Carbone of Jimmy's No. 43, Brad Farmerie of PUBLIC, and many other brave souls volunteered to be the shuckers. Their partners, "the suckers," had a much cushier role—given that they weren't confronted with specks of blood on their targets. Say what?? Yes, some shuckers cut themselves. Three, to be exact. Oh, the things people will do in the name of competition... The first team to successfully shuck and consume 24 oysters wins.

Jimmy Carbone and his partner, Eddie Oyster, won by a shell.

Random fact: Over 12 million oysters have gone through the Fulton Fish Market.

After a lengthy break to fix "technical difficulties," we were finally able to watch the films. I particularly enjoyed Food Curated's film on West Coast oysters. I met creator Liza de Guia briefly at the event and she instantly won me over. Her sweet, cheerful, and generous demeanor made her instantly lovable. You can really see that she cares deeply about her mission through the way that she unfolds and repackages her wonderful stories.

The very last film about Kee's Chocolates was also intriguing and I related deeply to Kee's general attitude about work and life. Passion is key. Everything else will come naturally. And to further enhance the experience, everyone was offered a sample of her chocolate during the middle of the movie. I plucked a creamy, milk chocolate, sesame seed-covered, chili powder sprinkled truffle—and was insanely good. I'm talking about melt-your-mind good. I think must go visit the shop now to buy some more.