Shucking on with the John Bil Memorial Trophy

from left: chef and restauranteur, David McMillan, The Coast editor, Kyle Shaw and seafood king John Bil. photo @RILEYSMITHPHOTO

This past January John Bil passed away from cancer at his home in Toronto, Ontario. Bil had been a guest of the Halifax Oyster Festival the past few years, providing encouragement, advice and judging at the front table. To honour his memory and his love of all things oysters we are renaming our annual Nova Scotia Shucking Championship trophy to the John Bil Memorial Trophy. Bil promoted amateurs and pro shuckers alike in everything he did so we hope we all do him proud.

Bil had been working on a book, Honest Weight—Straight Talk From The Seafood Counter, which will be available at the festival this September

. Here’s how his publisher remembers John:

JOHN BIL (1968-2018) worked with fish — on the water, behind the counter, and in the kitchen — for over twenty-five years. Bil began his career shucking oysters at the Toronto dining institution Rodney’s Oyster House, before venturing east to the Maritimes, where he spent over a decade working in the shellfish and fish farming industry, and later opened his first restaurant, Ship to Shore, in Darnley, Prince Edward Island. A respected and in-demand seafood expert, Bil assisted with the openings of several other high-profile restaurants, including M. Wells Steakhouse (New York), Claddagh Oyster House (Charlottetown, PEI), Restaurant Joe Beef (Montreal), and most recently, his own Honest Weight (Toronto).