What It's Like Being A Professional Oyster Shucker In Montreal
There's something about oysters. They look like pearls inside jewelled boxes under the sea. Not only are they filled with tons of minerals, but fresh oysters on a bed of crushed ice taste heavenly with a side of white wine vinaigrette.
Whether you're a fan of the sweet West Coast or salty East Coast, or if you like em big or small - everyone needs oysters in their dinner menu - especially with a side of bubbly.
Now when it comes Montreal, there's no one better to discuss oysters than the man himself - Chef Jason Nagy.
Jason Nagy, did not only make it to our Hottest Chefs List, but he also makes it for having a Bad!ass day job.
Read further for details on what it's like being an oyster shucker in Montreal's finest dining scene.
He's taller than he looks in pictures. Much taller. Jason wears his signature "Shuck me" cap and sits facing me at Burgundy Lion, one of his favourite Griffintown bars.
He orders a dark brewed beer. I order a Stella. Then of course, 4 shots of Jameson.
How did you start the journey of cooking for a living?
Nagy grew up on Emeril Lagasse, Anthony Bourdain and the Food Network. It didn't take him very long to realize he had a passion for two things: food and booze. Jason went to culinary school at the age of 19, and started working in the industry right away, which was now 11 years ago.
"I started off being a fishmonger - until I landed a gig with Méchant Boeuf."
During the interview, they asked him one crucial question, which he didn't know then, but would change his speciality from Chef to raw bar Chef.
"Do you know how to shuck oysters?"
"Of course I do" He responded confidently, without thinking twice. That was the deal breaker, he was now hired.
That night he went home, bought himself a pack of oysters, took out his oyster knife and typed "how to shuck oysters" on Youtube.
"I learned quickly." He says as he sips on his beer.
"I knew whatever else I didn't know, I would learn in the kitchen".
Interesting fact: Oysters tend to taste better when the water is colder.
After working at Méchant Boeuf, Jason quickly became known in the Montreal dining scene.
Although he describes himself as a "Night owl", "Entertainer" even party animal, he is mostly known as:
Your Mother's Favorite Shucker.
"It's what I do".
Which is why he decided to ditch behind the scenes, and become the man in the frontline. Nagy started his company, Shuck Me which provides oysters and staff for several restaurants including Grinder, Flyjin and l'Aromate Bistro. They are also known for private events and fundraisers.
"We would have nights at Flygin, where we shucked over 800 oysters in one night. It's amazing."
His Favorite Oysters?
"Definitely from the East Coast - P.E.I, New Orleans style big oysters - on the grill are also great"
Interesting fact - Oysters are not an aphrodisiac
Although Oysters do contain considerable amounts of nature’s building block, cholesterol, as well as being extremely rich in protein, there's no direct link to it being an aphrodisiac. It's the atmosphere surrounded around the time that you are eating them, that stimulates sexual desire.
"If you're having oysters, you're most likely out for dinner, enjoying a bottle of wine or a cocktail with a company you enjoy, and the way you're eating it might be a turn on, but what's in the oyster itself - isn't what's turning you on." Nagy says.
Check out more information on Chef Jason Nagy here.