Chef Tres and Kat did not break the record, but they tried, and there's always next time!
Reported by Barbara Blake
January 20, 2010
Lobster Trap chef Tres Hundertmark tries for oyster-shucking world record Barbara Blake
One of the most unique shows in town is happening on Saturday at the Haywood Park's Grand Ballroom, featuring a very determined man with a very sturdy knife. But get there on time, because this show lasts for only 60 seconds. Tres Hundertmark, general manager and executive chef of The Lobster Trap in downtown Asheville, will try to open 34 oysters in one minute to break the Guinness world record, following his participation in back-to-back oyster-shucking championships in 2008 and 2009 at the Charleston Oyster Roast.
The fast-paced competition will happen during the third annual Winter Warmer Beer Festival running 3-7 p.m. Saturday, hosted by Asheville Brews Cruise, ThreeSheets: Design, French Broad Brewing Co. and the Haywood Park Hotel. (The festival is already sold out.)
Hundertmark, who placed sixth in the 2009 National Oyster Shucking Championship in Maryland, said that unlike the national competition, which also considers the quality of the oysters after the opening process, “my requirement for this competition is to separate the two shells, as many as I can as fast as I can — it's as simple as that.”
It's not as simple as it sounds. Oyster-shucking is an art, requiring a combination of strength and dexterity. And there are plenty of fans who will be on hand at the beer festival to watch Hundertmark go for the world record.
“Tres has dedicated a lot of time and effort into doing this. It's not something that just came out of the blue — it's something he really wants to do,” said Michel Baudouin, chef and owner of Bouchon restaurant on Lexington Avenue.
“He's gone all over the country, traveling to many different places doing this. I've seen him in action, and I know he can break this record,” Baudouin said. “It's really fun to watch him, and I'm going to be there to support him, because I want him to succeed.”
As a chef for 20 years, “from New Orleans to Nantucket,” Hundertmark knows his way around a kitchen — and an oyster shell. He is looking forward to having plenty of support from friends and fans as he undergoes the one-minute shucking frenzy.
“Six hundred people in a relatively small space — I imagine I can get them pretty cranked up and cheering for me pretty good,” Hundertmark said. “There's nothing like 600 intoxicated, screaming fans to keep you going.”
To add a little additional flavor to the event, Hundertmark's son, Kat, a senior at Asheville High School and a seasoned shucker himself, will be cracking those shells open right beside his dad. And to this father, parental pride trumps personal best.
“Kat and I are going to shuck against each other on Saturday, so he could potentially win as well,” Hundertmark said. “And that would be outstanding.”