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Oyster Events, Oyster PeopleOctober 8, 2017

The Spirit of the Oyster South

It’s an opportune time to be an oyster enthusiast in the South. Although many Gulf and Southeastern states have longstanding oyster ventures, the industry is being shaken up by new faces, places, and ideas. A new entity has emerged from this energy. Its name: The Oyster South. Its purpose: building a community around southern family oyster farms.

Oyster South is a non-profit organization that’s comprised of oyster farmers, academics, restaurateurs, and media folks who are committed to the growth of southern oyster culture and community. The cross-sector collective not only fills a geographic gap between the ECSGA and PCSGA, but also reflects the new collaborative spirit between producers, operators, and consumers. I flew down to Atlanta in January and hitched a ride with Oyster South co-founder/board member Ted Golden, aka @FoodieBuddha, to Auburn University to participate in the inaugural Oyster South Symposium.

The gathering consisted of a diverse swath of stakeholders, from professional oyster shuckers to Sea Grant representatives. The agenda was packed with interesting talks. Each state had an opportunity to share updates about the development, or lack thereof, in their aquaculture sector. Louisiana and Alabama are the trailblazers of the oyster farming movement, and North Carolina and Florida also are growing rapidly. Things (legislation, namely) seem to be more complicated in other states such as Texas and Mississippi, and marine resource representatives admit that there’s a lot of catching up to do.

Chefs also had a voice during the two-day symposium. Chef Ryan Prewitt (shown above) from Pêche in New Orleans shared his perspective about working closely with local growers to source the best oysters for his raw bar. His thoughts were echoed by Bryan Rackley, partner/co-founder of Oyster South and Kimball House’s Oyster Situation Director PersonJim Smith, Executive Chef of the State of Alabama and Top Chef contestant also offered up some great suggestions about how to work with your state government to promote oysters. It was a real treat to have such a stellar group of chefs and foodservice professionals at the gathering, and being able to spend more time with them at the Alabama Oyster Social in the evening.

For oyster farming to happen just about anywhere nowadays comes down to one key component: seed. That is why I found the presentations, “Oyster Hatcheries in the South” by Scott Rikard from Auburn University and “Bottle Nursery Components and Operation for Small Oyster Seed Production” by John Supan from Louisiana State University to be especially interesting. If you’re thinking about starting up an oyster business, it’ll be worth your while to watch.

After the first day of class—the venue made me feel like we were all going back to school—the group was let out to refresh themselves in the brisk 40-degree January air. It certainly felt nice, but I wasn’t expecting Alabama to be this chilly!

Jay Styron of Carolina Mariculture lugged out a large white and blue sack of his Cedar Island Selects to the courtyard. As soon as he and Bill Walton had an oyster and knife in hand, a cluster of hungry symposium attendees started circling around the two. The Cedar Island Select—not to be confused with Cedar Islands from Rhode Island—was a brand new specimen for me. It would be my second-ever North Carolinian oyster encounter (the first being Cape Hatteras), and I was very eager to try it.

Bill handed me a pillowy cream-colored oyster. It had a lovely deep cup and felt heavy in my hand. The Cedar Island Select’s icy, ocean-breezy brine tastes more saline than I had imagined it would be although not overbearing. The fully opaque, about-to-spill-over-the-shell meat had marvelously dense and springy texture. The freshness was palpable. I felt a strange sensation while enjoying this oyster. It didn’t actually feel like I was eating an oyster at all! Instead, I was snacking on a luscious sea scallop or lump crab meat. Sea-sweet, supple, and savory. The Cedar Island Select is what I imagine when I hear the phrase, “fruit of the sea,” and I couldn’t get enough.

Although our hands and toes were growing numb from the cold, my senses were wide awake.

I’m newly convinced that not only is it better to enjoy oysters when it’s cold but also eating them in the cold (and maybe while you’re cold). Oysters in the summertime is sooooo overrated. 

Side note: if you are ever handed a freshly shucked oyster by Bill Walton (aka Doctor Oyster), I suggest you accept it. There aren’t many times in your life when you’ll be offered a perfectly shucked oyster sprinkled with super fresh oyster knowledge.

On day two, I gave my presentation, “#OysterLove: 2017 Trends Forecast,” which focuses on a few trends that I see are impacting consumer and B2B marketing efforts. Since that talk, I’ve seen some growers take my advice to heart and really up their marketing and social media game. (Btw: if you’re interested in getting access to the presentation, shoot me an email.)

All and all, I learned a TON at the Oyster South Symposium. More importantly, I got to meet some remarkable growers, chefs, and thought leaders in the oyster space. It’s a really unique networking opportunity and would definitely go again.

Should I Join the Oyster South?

The short answer is Yes. You and anyone who is interested in supporting the growth of the southern oyster industry should join. If you are a current grower or aspiring one based in the South (or have a business that supports the oyster industry), membership is currently just $35/year. Sign up at on their website.

An upcoming Oyster South event that you definitely need to know about is Landlocked on Sunday, October 29th in Decatur, GA (just outside of Atlanta). This magnificent feast of oysters from all three coasts and whole hog BBQ will benefit the University of Georgia Shellfish Lab & Oyster South Partner Farms. Just take a gander below at the growers and chefs involved. I’m going to be there. You should be there. Let’s party!

Tickets are $100 (VIP tickets that get you in the door 1 hour before General Admission is $150).

Grab them here.


Oyster PeopleAugust 10, 2017

In A Nut Shell: Chef Austin Navarre

With tat-laden arms, a Brooklyn-worthy beard, and adorn in apparel promoting every decent raw bar in the country but his own, Austin Navarre doesn’t just have the look of a badass mothershuckin’ chef; he’s the real deal. I met Austin when he was in the midst of opening Chelsea Farms Oyster Bar in Olympia, Washington last fall. One bite of his crisp geoduck salad, chargrilled octopus, and elegantly garnished Chelsea Gem oyster and you’ll be nodding too.

Austin’s menu at Chelsea Farms Oyster Bar changes constantly. If I could go every week, I would. As an early participant in the James Beard Foundation Smart Catch program, Chef Navarre is as conscientious about creating surprising flavor combinations as he is about taking care of the environment. BTW: I’m still reminiscing about those steamed oysters and absinthe butter…


Chelsea Farms Oyster Bar
222 Capitol Way N
Olympia, WA 98501
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Oyster PeopleApril 1, 2017

10 Wonderful Oyster Instagrammers You Should Be Following

I love Instagram. Dare I say even more so than blogging? Every time I scroll through my oyster-centric feed on @inahalfshellblog, I always discover something beautiful, surprising, funny, and inspiring. Oyster Instagrammers are a total thing now.

But maintaining a high-quality Instagram feed is hard work! It takes a lot of time and energy to come up with consistently stellar content and a dependable vibe. Here are 10 amazing oyster-centric accounts that I adore, admire and suggest you follow if you want to live, eat, sleep, and dream about oysters all day every day.

#1 Hama Hama Oysters

A lot of farms are on IG now, but few do it quite as well as Hama Hama. It’s like Food Network meets Travel Channel for oysters! Breathtaking farm scenery, ridiculous sunsets (I’m a total sucker for sunsets), and flawless shucks. Follow @hamahamaoysters


Oyster PeopleJuly 11, 2014

In A Nut Shell: Chef Laurence Edelman

Chef Laurence Edelman of Left Bank has a special place in my heart. He taught me how to shuck my first oyster back in the day when I was just a wee bivalve newb. He’s also the only one who still knows me as my previous MO. “Peek & Eat!” He’d exclaim, using a tone that is usually reserved for recollecting buried childhood nicknames. Well, I guess you all now know too. When Chef Laurence left the Mermaid Oyster Bar to open Left Bank, he went on a hiatus from oysters. Maybe to get some distance. Maybe to build a new perspective. It wasn’t until the beginning of this year — during an epic oyster-eating tradition that him and his wife share — that he decided to get back into the half shell game. So NYC’ers: If you’re ever hankering for some good, hearty, honest food, make your way to Laurence and Micheline’s Left Bank on Perry Street.


Left Bank
117 Perry Street
New York, NY
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Oyster PeopleJune 17, 2014

In A Nut Shell: Chef Ryan Prewitt

One of the many highlights on my epic oyster tour of New Orleans was sitting down with Chef Ryan Prewitt of Pêche Seafood Grill to chat about oysters. Just a few minutes into our  conversation, it became apparent that Chef Prewitt’s commitment to building strong relationships with independent, quality-seeking fishermen and farmers will be a game-changer, and it bodes especially well for Louisiana oyster growers looking to produce a more specialized, boutique product. Pêche recently won this year’s highly coveted James Beard Best New Restaurant Award and Chef Prewitt also won the Best Chef – South title. Meanwhile, brothers Jason and Jacob Hulse from Pêche also placed 1st and 3rd at this year’s P & J Shucking Competition during the New Orleans Oyster Festival. These guys are doing a lot of things right!

Chef Ryan Prewitt

Pêche Seafood Grill
800 Magazine Street
New Orleans, LA
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