A new television show is seeking professional West Coast oyster-shuckers to test their skills against shuckers from the nation's other top oyster regions.
Discovery Channel's The Best in the Business competition is designed to find the most talented workers in a variety of blue-collar occupations, including pizza-making, restaurant-serving, grocery-bagging, and oyster-shucking. While production company Powderhouse has successfully tapped into the "Northeast's inner circle" for the shucking show, casting specialist Erika Hardin says she's still short on Pacific Northwest competitors.
Hardin is hoping to attract more applications from West Coast shuckers before the show's casting call ends next week.
"When we say someone's the 'best in the business,' we don't want to be lying," she says, stressing the need for geographic diversity.
For fairness' sake, competitors will be asked to shuck oysters from both coasts--and perhaps perform a few other tasks worthy of a television show.
"We might have something silly," Hardin says. "It is a reality show."
Elliott's Oyster House's Jorge Hernandez, who won the shucking competition at this year's International Boston Seafood Show, is confident a West Coast oyster-shucker will prevail in the competition. "What I see is East Coast people think Pacific oysters are hard to shuck," says Hernandez, who got his shucking start on this coast. "They think they're going to hurt their hands. They're a little afraid."
According to Hernandez, who will meet his East Coast brethren again next month when he competes in the prestigious World Oyster Invitational in Whistler, shuckers who deal with Atlantic oysters have honed their bluster instead of their bravery. "They think West Coast shuckers are not good enough to beat them," Hernandez says.
Hernandez hadn't heard about the Discovery Channel's show, but says he wouldn't be adverse to participating. "I don't mind," he says. "I think I can do that."