Q&A with Shucking Champ Eamon Clark
Eamon Clark has won Canadian Oyster Shucking Championship eight times over. His father Rodney owns Rodney’s Oyster House, a seafood-lover’s dream with locations in both Toronto and Calgary. Eamon, of course, is an in-house shucker. We picked his brain about—well—oysters.
As someone with a history of winning, how do you prepare for shucking competitions?
I am fortunate enough to work with some of the best oysters in the world and lots of them, we shuck plenty of oysters at Rodney’s Oyster House. I prepare by shucking lots for people over the bar and in the dining room and I will also do mock competitions with fellow workers.
Do you remember the first time you ate an oyster? When was that and what did you think of it?
Oh my…my dad used to take me to catering events and I would lay on the floor of the party and he would drop oysters into my mouth from above, people thought it was a riot. I feel as if I can’t really remember the first as I was so young but there have been so many amazing moments with oysters all over the world.
In your opinion, what makes a good oyster? For instance: Are you a fan of fixings, or are you a purist?
A good oyster is the following: size, shape and meat quality. Consistent in all those categories, then it should be fished at the right time and be on your plate within a few days out of water at the max. I am a hot sauce fanatic so I always do a small drop of hot sauce on the oyster, I won’t do that though if I have never tried the certain brand of oyster before.
What would you say to someone who was hesitant to try an oyster?
I always ask them what they are afraid of. Then you describe to them what a good oyster should taste like, shuck a perfect one for them, dress it up nicely so they can taste all the right flavours and enjoy the texture. Then walk them through it. It really is a cool, refreshing and exciting experience. Too much hype in it being slimy and nasty. If that is your experience with oysters then you aren’t getting them shucked properly.
Can we ever hope to see one of your restaurants on the east coast?
It has always been a dream to open a small restaurant at our Oyster Depot in Nine Mile Creek, PEI. It is set up for it, we just have to find the time to finally do it!
Catch Eamon Clark at this year’s Halifax Oyster Fest!