British Oyster Opening Championship.

On Tuesday I was lucky enough to be a guest at the British Oyster Opening Championship held in Baker Street, London. The event was sponsored by Tabasco. I’ve never been to a corporate event or any sort of business trip before, and I have to say it was a fantastic experience. I can see now why people say they’re great for networking. There was also a lady shucker there who actually recognised me from Mehalah’s (where I chef), so that was pretty cool for me as that never happens!fullsizeoutput_228My boyfriend, Tom, is eighth generation oysterman and runs his father’s business, Richard Haward’s Oysters. They are the oldest oyster farmers in England and Tom is very passionate about continuing with his family’s legacy. He is like a walking encyclopedia for oysters and seafood in general – which he has inherited from his dad, Richard, and his mother, Heather. Not only is Tom a great businessman, he is also an excellent shucker.fullsizeoutput_226Tom started shucking oysters when he was just 11 years old as his mum started the renowned Company Shed in West Mersea. Ever since, he has entered the shucking competetion at the dredging match most years in West Mersea, which takes place on the Packing Shed (watch this space for another blog post!), and he won it last year. But he has never entered a national competetion before until this year.Richard Haward’s oysters export oysters to Spain, Taiwan and China. They also have a stall at Borough Market in London. Tom decided to enter this competition after Sam, who runs Borough Market for London, entered himself and asked if Tom was interested. Sam also runs his own shucking business and is available for hire. Tom did so well, he won his heat, opening 30 native oysters in 3.25 but unfortunately lost points for presentation, but it’s something he’s going to work on for next year so he can enter again. I felt immense pride to be there with him and support him. It was a great experience and a really fun event to attend. I think it’s great that huge companies such as Tabasco and Guinness sponsor events and don’t charge competitors for their entry or their guests.  fullsizeoutput_229

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