Jorge Hernandez is as calm as a clam in the heat of competition.
Hey Mr. Sound Man: Please cue that Queen song played at every sporting event: He is the champion . . . baa-baa-baa-bum . . . of the world.
OK, maybe that's a bit of a fish story. Still, Elliott's Jorge Hernandez recently took first place at the fifth-annual International Boston Seafood Show Oyster-Shucking Competition, besting the rest of the pack by 18 seconds. High five, Jorge!
Any amateur who has ever tried to pry open one of those stubborn bivalves knows how tough it can be to open those suckers, let alone crank on a dozen in under two minutes. In part one of this week's Grillaxin Q&A, Hernandez shares a few tips on shucking and a story about how he witnessed an oyster turning a 12-year-old's frown upside down.
SW: Were you nervous going into the competition?
Hernandez: Yes, I was nervous . . . until I shucked my first oyster, and then everything was business as usual.
How many did you shuck in what time period?
I shucked 12 oysters in 1:28 minutes, with an adjusted time of 1:38.
What kind of knife did you use?
I used a Pradel with a two-inch blade.
For people who don't know how to shuck oysters, what advice would you offer?
Get a demonstration from an experienced shucker, use a towel in the hand holding the oyster, and be patient.
Have you talked anybody into trying an oyster for the first time? Was it love at first bite?
Yes, I have served oysters to a number of first-timers, however a young man of about 12 comes to mind first. He was sitting at the oyster bar, and when he first tasted the oyster, he had that classic "yuck" face, which after a second turned into a big smile.
If you were going to order cooked oysters, what's your favorite preparation?
I like the smoked apple-and-bacon preparation we do, as well as our pan-fried oyster.
What's next for you? More competitions?
Yes, I will be going to the Oyster Fest in Shelton in October. Their competition is the West Coast Championship.
Check back for part two of this week's Grillaxin for a Q&A with Elliott's executive chef, Robert Spaulding.