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Food Companion International, Our Daily Chef: Seafood purveyor/ John Susman
Our Daily Chef Seafood purveyor/ John Susman  
OYSTERS " our love affair with them are hotting up !
 
Regarded as the worlds most loved mollusc, oysters " of all varieties, regions and seasons, continue to capture the mouths, hearts and minds of the modern diner like never before. Current consumption in Australia is about ¾ dozen oysters per capita, per annum. Not much you might think in comparison to the 5 ½ dozen the average Dutchman downs; or even the 1 ½ dozen the average Pom consumes. But current consumption is trending upwards at a staggering 15% per annum (year on year over the past decade), which is a clear reflection of the silent revolution occurring behind the  “food guide” chef’s hats and celebrity TV cooking shows around the country. Buying, storing and serving a good oyster is in-fact a far more complex issue than blitzing up a foam or sprinkling a fancy powder; and requires a genuine commitment from the chef and restaurateur. Lets be frank, oysters are an expensive luxury " they are difficult to manage, difficult to fit into the demands of the modern food costing and yet can be a clear indicator to the customer of the professionalism and commitment of the restaurateur.
 
In reality, oysters have limited culinary versatility; a bad oyster can hide nothing. A good plate of oysters says way more to me than a restaurants’ reputation or location. 
To serve a plate of oysters, which is interesting, delicious and profitable to the operator and value to the customer, is akin to serving a memorable cheese " care must be taken at every stage from the selection of the variety, consideration of the season, knowledge of the grower (ideally), storage, preparation and presentation.  Seek advice about which are the best oysters in season, talk with your suppliers, seek out award winning oysters from the RAS (Royal Agriculture Society) via their website, ask which ones they recommend and you can get cranky if they don’t know or supply you with duds!
 
Get to know the source of supply, the variety, region and grower of your oyster " who would ever expect a restaurateur NOT to know what variety, where it was from and who made a wine on their list? Look for oysters that are plump, which are even in shape, have clean shells, which are free of overgrowth (barnacles, squirts etc) and have a pleasant oceanic aroma. Expect 1 in a dozen to be “out of condition” (whilst the grower and supplier will do their best to ensure these have been graded out " they are a live animal and can change condition from water to plate) and order appropriately.
 
Storage is a significant issue to the final eating quality of an oyster " as already mentioned, oysters are surprisingly fragile, and like all molluscs, from the moment they are removed from their watery home, are consuming glycogens or body fat, to survive. The more they stress, the more they consume. The more glycogen they consume, the quicker they loose “condition”, which is most generally related to the sweetness and mouth feel of the oyster.
Oysters should be treated with care " on receipt, they should be stored appropriately " Rock oysters in a humid environment at 12-14 degree Celsius; Pacific and Angassi’s at a cooler 3-5 degree Celsius.
 
Take care in the presentation " scrub, clean and chill before opening; don’t expect the first year apprentice to have a deft hand with an oyster knife immediately, teach them to take time not to damage the flesh on opening, and only ever open just prior to serving. Naturally, these guides refer to live oysters " if you can’t afford the time or the labour to open oysters “A-la Minute” then don’t serve them!
 
After years of contemplating the convenience and production issues relating to the purchase of pre-shucked oysters, I am now committed to promoting the use only of live oysters in restaurants.
 

 

   
 
 
 
Food Companion International, Previous Daily Chef's

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Chef's Name Date Added
Exec Chefs Club Exec Chefs Club1st March 2013
"Firing on all jets..Ben O'Donohoe.."2nd July 2012
Fame on the waters, Sydney chef Dietmar Sawyer Fame on the waters, Sydney chef Dietmar Sawyer8th August 2011
Chefs to put the tea back into 'high tea' high competition - ENTER NOW! Chefs to put the tea back into 'high tea' high competition - ENTER NOW!28th June 2011
Alex Kearns, chase the best produce and keep it simple at Neutral Bay Bar and Dining Alex Kearns, chase the best produce and keep it simple at Neutral Bay Bar and Dining28th September 2010
Istanbul chef, Ish Tosun at Melbourne's Gigibaba (Collingwood) Istanbul chef, Ish Tosun at Melbourne's Gigibaba (Collingwood)2nd November 2009