Service in an oyster bar can make or break anyone’s dining experience. The time and effort that goes in to curating an amazing oyster menu can be lost without support from a knowledgeable staff member.
In this spirit, Pangea Shellfish recently conducted an oyster training session at Eventide in the Fenway neighborhood of Boston, days before their grand opening. We thought we would share with you the curriculum that we believe is necessary to equip the front of house to best guide restaurant patrons in their slurping pursuits.
Intro to Oysters
First, we introduced the five different edible oyster species commercially available in the US and discussed their unique characteristics including: physical appearance flavor profile, and point of origin.
Oyster Life Cycle
Next, we dove into an oyster's life cycle. The biggest takeaway from this section is that oysters are seasonal creatures, and although they are fantastic to eat year-round, they will have different textures and tastes according to the time of year.
We then reviewed oyster growing methods, which contribute to the physical characteristics and flavor profile of the oyster. There are many ways to grow an oyster, and each farmer or harvester has their own combination that leads to their desired aesthetics. As an example, we talked about Standish Shore Oysters which begin in an upweller, are transferred to off-bottom cages, and then - when they are big enough - are planted on the ocean floor. The grower (Pangea founder Ben Lloyd) chooses this method for various reasons, including shell strength, flavor profile and consistency.
How to Taste and Serve Oysters
At this point in the training, we move to serving and eating oysters. Traditional service includes lemons, cocktail sauce, and mignonette. Each has its purpose, but for training purposes, we have the staff eat the oysters naked to better experience and understand flavor and consistency differences among oysters.
Flavor Profile Descriptions
We tasted a few different oysters (2 east coast, 1 west coast). After each oyster is tasted, the staff is asked to pick out a few words from our tasting wheel to help them recognize and articulate flavor.
Would this program be of benefit to your restaurant customers' staff? See our full oyster education curriculum here to enable your sales staff to conduct this training! As always, your friendly oyster experts at Pangea Shellfish Company are here to help!