There is an outside chance that in mere months, the top oyster shuckers in Calgary might be competing on the world stage, thanks to a charity fundraiser being held this June.
Rodney’s Oyster House is raising money for the Mustard Seed on June 25 with the return of their annual oyster shucking competition. One that even if visitors aren’t into oysters, still promises a boisterous good time in support of a good cause.
The restaurant is offering the winner of their professional category entry into the Canadian nationals at Tyne Valley Oyster Festival in Prince Edward Island, flights and accommodation included.
“If you win the Canadians, you’re going go to Ireland for the World’s and that is an amazing experience—if you can make it that far,” said Brad Conrad, General Manager for Rodney’s Oyster House.
“But the main thing that we’re doing here is just having a really good time, and raising money for a really good cause.”
Conrad said that the competitors would be vying for the top spot with thousands of hours of shucking behind them.
“What it takes is really years of standing behind the bar and shucking oysters, all different types of oysters, understanding how to do it, and how to get into the oyster cleanly,” he said.
“There is a skill to it with the shucking competition. It’s not how fast you go—speed plays a part in it—but you have to be clean, the oyster can’t be falling out of the shell, and there can’t be grit and shells and stuff in the oyster.”
Still, he said, when the countdown reaches zero and the shucking begins, the energy from the crowd is electric.
“We’re lucky to be downtown and have one of the best spaces in the city, but the energy is absolutely amazing, and it is a family-friendly event as well,” Conrad said.
Helping neighbours who need help
Conrad said that part of the reason why Rodney’s Oyster House chose the Mustard Seed this year was because of where the restaurant is located, and the people they see in need.
“Firsthand, we deal with a lot of the issues with homelessness and the darker side of being in downtown with people that are less fortunate. We’ve seen a lot of it in the in the back alley, and not just the back alley, people come in through the front door,” he said.
He said that it was a no-brainer to step up to help raise money for the Mustard Seed to help solve that issue.
The Mustard Seed said that they were thrilled to partner in turn with Rodney’s Oyster House.
“We at The Mustard Seed are deeply grateful to be the charity of choice for this year’s Fourth Annual Alberta Oyster Festival,” said Rowena Browne, Chief Development Officer for The Mustard Seed.
“With the generous support of the staff and patrons at Rodney’s Oyster House, together we will lift up the individuals in our city experiencing homelessness and poverty.”
Tickets for the event are $35 each and come with two drink tickets and a food ticket. Individually priced food items will be on sale during the fundraiser for $5 each, including two oysters for that price.
Attendees can purchase their tickets online through Eventbrite at www.eventbrite.ca/e/rodneys-oyster-festival-tickets-46738513151.