Oysterman at work

Photo Credit: John Lehmann / The Globe & Mail

Join the Oyster Revolution!

Oysters require no artificial feeding and demand only a clean sea to thrive

Brent Pekau, “The Oysterman,” loves a good schuck.

Give “The Oysterman” an inch, and he’ll take a mile – so to speak. For the past 20 years, Brent Petkau, aka “The Oysterman,” has juggled his time between his home in Nelson, BC and his oyster lease on Cortes Island and nearby Marina Island.

And he never misses an opportunity to talk up the virtues of his favourite bivalve, the oyster. As Petkau says, they require no artificial feeding and demand only a clean sea to thrive. “No food. No fertilizer. No inputs whatsoever,” Petkau said in a recent article.

Brent Petkau’s The Perfect Oyster video

Tasty and full of nutrients, oysters hold the distinction of being one of the only foods that people routinely eat raw and when still alive. So think about that one for a moment or two the next time you’re staring down an oyster on the half shell.

“Every oyster tastes different. Every oyster has its own individual qualities,’ Petkau says in a mini-doc visible on his website, The Perfect Oyster. “Sweetness, saltiness, savoriness – they all come together in the perfect oyster.”   

As Oysterman, this Manitoba-born coastal renaissance man has cultivated a colourful brand as the Che Guevara beret-wearing promoter for the “Oyster Revolution.” For Petkau, it’s a two-pronged effort.

First, it means converting as many as possible to the tasty wonders of oysters, shellfish squeamish people included.

Second, it means helping to support individual oyster growers and encouraging them to sell directly to consumers and restaurants. Direct sales are more profitable because shellfish wholesalers – acting as middlemen – squeeze value out of the product and make the life of the oyster grower less viable.

The Oysterman has supplied some of Canada’s finest kitchens with oysters, including The Pointe Restaurant at The Wickaninnish Inn in Tofino and Toronto’s Oyster Bed and Grill. And he loves a good shellfish festival more than anything. So if Petkau corners you at one of them, get comfortable and prepare for a deep dive into the world of this enigmatic shellfish.http://www.theoysterman.com/cms/