Shucker Paddy

Shucker Paddy, the oyster is his world

by Samantha McLeod

Shucker Paddy is a great showman who has appeared on Gordon Ramsay’s The FWord Live, and Martha and Snoop Potluck Party Challenge

The first time I spoke to Patrick McMurray aka Shucker Paddy, I was flabbergasted by his sheer passion for oysters. Then I was awestruck by his infinite knowledge about the oyster as a species. His knowledge ranges from the very etymology of the word, to the evolution of man, or was it the other way around? The fact is, his teachings were so all encompassing, precise and chronological that I felt like the big bang theory was just explained to me by a nerdy scientist who happens to love food, and has a good command of storytelling. I learnt more about oysters in a 20-minute session with Shucker Paddy than I have ever learnt in my 30 years of slurping oysters all across North America.

The gab of the Irish is surely a gift for Patrick, his storytelling is colourful. He paints lovely little images to solidify the point he is about to make.

Patrick explained to me that oysters can be found pretty much everywhere water touches land, except Antarctica. He theorises that Erectus (Homo) found his way down to the water, smashed a shell or two, started eating and his brain developed…so well, that he created a tool to slip open the oysters, and presented it to his leader, the big Erectus guy.

Patrick McMurray is such a great showman that he is sought after to present insightful and entertaining stage, and television performances with many iconic chefs and shows in the industry, he has appeared on Gordon Ramsay’s The FWord Live, and Martha and Snoop Potluck Party Challenge. His name seems to appear on the bills of every shellfish event across the globe.

Patrick McMurray, is an author, inventor, professor, and a World Champion Oyster Shucker.

Toronto born and bred, with a degree in Kinesiology, Patrick McMurray was brought up by parents with strong work ethics, and a love for eating out and travelling. This may explain McMurray’s unquenchable hunger to travel to places where water touches land.

Patrick started work in an oyster bar at the age of 16. From his first introduction to oysters, to this moment, he has been resolute in his passion for the shellfish and its industry. Wild or farmed, East Coast to West Coast of Canada, and to virtually every corner of the world, Patrick has been there, to build on his repertoire as a connoisseur of oysters.

Little Shucker Paddy was born in that oyster bar at the tender age of 16…and then he grew up to become the world’s most famous oyster shucking champion with three Guinness Book Records under his belt;

  • Team Canada, 8840 Oysters in one hour
  • Individual, 39 Oysters in one minute
  • Personal, 1,114 Oysters in one hour

Today, the name Shucker Paddy is synonymous with oysters.

With his vast knowledge of oysters, shucking ability, and teaching skills, Patrick is known in the Oyster world as an Oyster Sommelier, he is the go-to consultant when it comes to shucker training and menu designs for seafood retailers, oyster bars and restaurants. This is not surprising since Patrick has owned and operated two very successful Toronto restaurants in the past.

Currently, Patrick teaches at Centennial College where I am sure he charms and fascinates all the students with his brilliant storytelling about oysters, and about his wonderful adventures around the world.

The man, Patrick McMurray, or the legend Shucker Paddy, whichever name you choose to use, is a huge proponent of sustainability. He has been a speaker at the Global Aquaculture Alliance, Seafood Show North America, Scotland’s National Shucking Championship, and continues to make many appearances at seafood festivals across the globe.

 “I believe to sustain the industry, and to make it the best industry possible, we have to keep the conversation going. I supported aquaculture back in the late 1900s. I realised something was not right when wild fish came at 5 pounds instead of the 10/15 pounds I was used to getting. I knew something was happening in the ocean so I changed my menu to alleviate the problem I had a three-tiered system, Sustainable, which is farm raised, Local, wild seafood, and Odd was whatever odd fish was caught that day,” explained Patrick when asked him about his thoughts on aquaculture.

According to Shucker Paddy, the oyster world is a delicious industry. The taste, feel and uniqueness of every type of oyster is based on where they came from, the salinity of the water, what they fed on, and how they were grown and harvested. The list is infinite when it comes to what makes each and every oyster unique.

Patrick explained that when it comes to taste, some oysters are salty-seaweed-tin, while others are sea salt-melon-cucumber, some may have a whetstone finish, while others may be woody-pine flowers. Descriptive words flow like an ocean from Patrick, inspiring all and sundry to get to know the oyster you are about to taste, get to know where it was grown, what infuses the meat, why the shell is the way it is, and how it pairs with whiskeys and wines.

I have eaten many oysters but I only really tasted them for the first time, after having a chat with Patrick. His first advice is to never swallow the oyster whole, slow down and chew the oyster, feel the flavours spreading across your tongue, swallow a little at a time and taste some more, After the final swallow , explore the flavours left behind. Think of textures, and flavours…and try to avoid sauces if you really want to understand what the oyster is telling your tastebuds.

Learn to enjoy the entire gamut of eating an oyster. Get up close and intimate with your oyster…then have some more. And one day soon you too will be shucking your own.

To learn more, buy his book, join one of his classes, and get yourself one of those fancy glove…and don’t forget the knife.

Shucker Paddy’s book, The Oyster Companion (2018 – Firefly Books), an in-depth guide to Oystering is filled with oyster-travel stories, instructions, and an incomparable oyster taste wheel.

The Art of Oystering, is an Oyster 101 program that has been taught from Europe to Asia, and promotes for WWF Canada, and OceanWise. “Been there, Shucked that!”

The master is only as good as his equipment and to win contests, you have to have proper equipment and technique. Here is where Patrick used his Kinesiology theories when he invented his World famous PistolGrip oyster knife that provides a faster shuck, and safer technique, which also results in cleaner oysters. The pistol grip knife is now produced by Swissmar for worldwide distribution. The Shucking Tray System, Shuckin’Puck, gloves and other gear are available right now, while other equipment are in the R&D stage.

Stay tuned for my review of Patrick’s book, The Oyster Companion.

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