Behind the counter at Seattle’s Taylor Shellfish Market, a brawny guy with a goatee pries open kumamoto, virginica, and shigoku oysters as easily as other men pop beer cans. David Leck is a national oyster shucking champion who opened and plated a dozen of them in just over a minute (time is added for broken shells or mangled meat) at the 2012 Boston International Oyster Shucking Competition. You have to be quick, these days, to keep up with demand. The oysters here were grown nearby in Taylor’s hundred-year-old beds, but the current hunger for pedigreed mollusks on the half shell stretches to raw bars and markets across the country.
The problem? Ocean chemistry is changing, and it's getting harder to grow oysters. My story on this continues on SLATE. GO TO STORY