Oysters are an essential part of Northwestern dining, and Shuck Portland, running from February 2 to February 9, is a celebration of those delicate, briny treats, as well as a fundraiser for restoration efforts. The week long festival offers a variety of events, including dinners, classes, and parties all revolving around the oyster.
The festival came about when Maylin Chavez of Olympia Oyster Bar and Lyf Gildersleeve of Flying Fish Co., both who work with oysters on a daily basis, wanted to raise awareness about the growing food trend. The two reached out to their friends in the industry, including Tournant’s Jaret Foster, and seasoned event producer Natalia Toral, and founded Shuck.
“We have this amazing bounty on the West Coast and we want to bring attention to it,” says Chavez. “We want to have a good time, eat and drink and do what Portlanders do best, but it’s really about bringing awareness to our ecosystem.” Proceeds from the festival are going to conservation, restoration, and education efforts by The Wetlands Conservancy and WEBS (Watershed, Estuary, Beach & Sea). Maintaining a healthy oyster population is about more than just culinary interests, as oysters serve an essential part of the ecosystem. “Oysters can filter up to 50 gallons of water a day,” Chavez says, “They’re phenomenal, and with a little bit of our help they can do a lot.”
Besides the nine main events, which include mezcal classes, a dinner by Vitaly Paley, and a panel on conservation, Shuck also has contributing restaurants offering oyster specials all week, with those proceeds going to the charities as well. The festival will also provide an opportunity for guests to meet the hardworking people who face treacherous conditions to harvest oysters, often by hand.
The team plans on making Shuck an annual event, as well as possibly smaller events throughout the year.