Stranraer Oyster Festival back for first year after Covid

The winner of the Scottish Shucking Championship will go on to represent Scotland in the World Championships at Galway International Oyster Festival. Credit: Events Scotland

The Stranraer Oyster Festival is returning for the first time after Covid.

Contenders are invited to battle it out on Saturday 3 September for the title of Scotland’s Shucking Champion.

The winner will go on to represent Scotland in the World Championships at Galway International Oyster Festival, on an all-expenses paid trip in late September.

The current Scottish Champion, Tristan Hugh-Jones,of Loch Ryan Oyster Fishery, will be compering the event and has offered some training at the festival to help competitors perfect their shuck.

Mr Hugh-Jones said: “It’s fantastic to see the ShuckOff make a return to Stranraer Oyster Festival and I’m thrilled to be hosting the event this year.

"It was a real honour to win Championship in 2019, and represent Scotland at the Internationals in Galway, and this year I very much look forward to seeing some stiff competition, and some beautifully opened oysters.”

  • Video report by Natasha Potts.

In the battle for champion shucker each competitor is required to open 30 oysters in under three minutes, and points are awarded for the speed of opening plus the presentation of the tray of opened oysters.

The competition is open to Scottish chefs, seafood professionals and hospitality students.

The test for the judges is how attractive the tray would look for a customer in a hotel or restaurant.

The ShuckOff will be judged by shellfish experts David Jarrad and Janet Brown.

Tristan Hugh-Jones is the current Scottish shucking champion. Credit: Events Scotland

David Jarrad is chief executive of the Shellfish Association of Great Britain and is an experienced oyster opening expert.

He has owned oyster farms and ran a mobile oyster bar and has judged the British Oyster Opening Championship for more than a decade.

Ms Brown has championed shellfish for decades, from research work on giant clams in the South China Sea to her current role as editor of The Grower, the newsletter of the Association of Scottish Shellfish Growers. 

She also ran the shellfish unit at the Institute of Aquaculture, University of Stirling.

The Scottish Oyster Shucking Championships will take place on Saturday 3 September from 12.30pm – 2pm at the Stranraer Oyster Festival.

Stranraer Oyster Festival takes place from Friday 2 to Sunday 4 September.

The event marks the opening of the British native oyster season.

To avoid the breeding season, native oysters in the UK are traditionally harvested only during months with an ‘R’ in the name. 

The festival programme includes demonstrations and events by celebrity chefs Clodagh McKenna and Tony Singh, live music, extreme pond dipping, an artisan market, the Big Oyster Bash, children’s entertainment, a massive oyster bar and a firework display over Loch Ryan, home of Scotland’s last wild, native oyster fishery.

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