Sipping a Bud Light with a smile as wide as the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, Daniel Notkin basked in the glow of victory on Monday, having just won the 9th Annual Oyster Shucking Contest at Seafood Expo North America.
Notkin, owner of Notkin’s Oyster Bar in Montreal, didn’t come to Boston expecting to win, only to have a good time. It was obvious to anyone watching that he was well on his way.
“Shucking a good oyster and giving it to people like you, that’s the success I’m after,” said Notkin (pictured, left). “It feels good to win. I felt great, and I’d feel good even if I didn’t win. There’s so many good competitors.”
Notkin’s flat time of 1 minutes, 3 seconds was by far the fastest time of all the 14 shuckers who competed, and his 34 seconds of penalty time was the least of all competitors, making Notkin the runaway winner.
Steve Boreen of Benjamin’s Raw Bar came in second place, with a flat time of 1 minute, 11 seconds and an adjusted time of 2 minutes, 11 seconds.
In third place was last year’s champion, Deborah Pratt, marketing specialist at the Virginia Marine Products Board. Her flat time was 1 minute, 28 seconds and an adjusted time of 2 minutes 19 seconds. Notkin gave Pratt a huge hug after the competition and called her a “legend” in oyster shucking. Pratt (pictured, at right) told SeafoodSource after her turn on stage that she had hoped to repeat and “prayed on it,” but was simply happy to be among friends enjoying a good competition.
Emcee for the contest again this year was Patrick McMurray, owner of Pearl Diver restaurant, the Ceili Cottage restaurant and Starfish Catering in Toronto. He’s also the world’s fastest oyster shucker, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.
This year’s judges were Skip Bennett of Island Creek Oyster Co. and Island Creek Oyster Bar in Boston, Chris Aerni of Rossmont Inn in New Brunswick and Joseph Milano, owner extraordinaire of Union Oyster House in Boston. Oysters were provided by Pangea Shellfish Co. in Boston.