Rose rocks Boston
There’s a new oyster-shucking champion in Boston, and like many of the city’s sports heroes, he’s used to being an underdog.
Keith Rose, who skippers a surf clam dredge and runs a shellfish farm in Wellfleet, Mass., says he has placed second many times in hometown shucking competitions against world-champion William “Chopper” Young, also from Wellfleet. They also grew up together and are good friends.
“I’ve been an oyster man since I could hold a knife,” he said. “The oyster family’s pretty tight.”
Rose clocked in at a speedy 1 minute, 41 seconds (adjusted time) to win the 7th annual Boston competition, held Monday afternoon on the show floor. It was also Rose’s first time competing in Boston, and he was pumped.
“Second place is the first loser. Print that,” said Rose.
Young did not make it to the contest this year, but a couple other former champions did. Last year’s winner David Leck from Taylor Shellfish Farms in Seattle took second place with a final time of 1 minute, 56 seconds. Rose also beat 2011 champion Jorge Hernandez of Elliott’s Oyster House in Seattle, who came in third with a time of 2 minutes, 4 seconds.
Rose was such an unknown that prior to the competition, Leck said the only competitors he was worried about were Hernandez and Deborah Pratt, another world-champion shucker. She took fifth place this year with an adjusted time of 2:14. Steve Boreen was fourth at 2:04.
As first-place winner, Rose gets USD 700 in cash. Leck gets USD 400 and Hernandez USD 200. The fourth and fifth place finishers receive USD 100 and USD 50 as well as gift certificates to the Union Oyster House in Boston.
Rose says he’ll be back next year to defend his title. He also plans to claim an additional prize of a free trip to Boulder, Colo., to compete in the first High-West Oyster Fest on April 2. Max Seid, of Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar in Boulder, says he started the competition after competing himself three times in Boston.
“He did a phenomenal job so we’re psyched to have him out there,” said Seid.
The West Coast-East Coast rivalry among contestants was also represented in the oysters. Contestants shucked a dozen oysters with six Pacific oysters from Penn Cove Shellfish in Coupeville, Wash., and six Atlantic oysters from J.C. Walker Brothers in Willis Wharf, Va.
“Some people are going to be good at one, some people are going to be good at the other,” said the contest’s host Patrick McMurray, also a world-champion shucker. “You end up balancing it out with both.”
The contest’s judges this year included Tim Rapine, managing director of Ballard Fish & Oyster Co.; Ian Jefferd, president of Penn Cove Shellfish; and Amedee Savoie, owner and grower of the Beausoleil Oyster of New Brunswick.