I was 16 years old, working at Beaujolais restaurant in Toronto. It was a lovely restaurant with oysters on the menu. Simon Bower (who now owns Lucien), was in the kitchen and goes: “Paddy, watch the front kitchen door, make sure chef doesn’t come in, we’re going to have some oysters. Shhhh, don’t tell anyone.” I’m like: “Oysters, what’s so big about oysters?”
Simon’s fighting with a butter knife and finally pops open a couple of them for everyone to enjoy. It was this bright, ocean brininess that didn’t taste like anything I’d ever had. It tasted cold, salty, sweet, and gritty from the butter knife crushing shell into the actual thing. And it was at that time that I said, “I’m going to develop the best oyster knife in the world” (laughs). No, I had no clue at that point.
For more oyster stories and to check out his custom-designed ShuckerPaddy oyster knife, ask for Patrick by name at Starfish Oyster Bed & Grill and Ceili Cottage in Toronto. He does not condone the use of butter knives when it comes to oyster opening.
TOMORROW: Patrick McMurray’s beginner guide to oyster eating.