Ready to get shuckin’?
Event planner Mitchell Crosby’s can’t-fail tips for throwing an oyster roast
Illustration by Bailey Mennetti
Great news—the “r” months have arrived and with them the briny goodness that are local oysters. Now you could wait for an invitation to one of the many roasts in town, but why not just throw your own? For guidance, Charleston entertaining style editor Mitchell Crosby—owner of event planning biz JMC Charleston—shares his top oyster roast tips:
1. Local oysters come as clusters and selects, the latter having more shell knocked off and having one, two, or three oysters on a cluster. A local bushel can be purchased in a 40-pound bag or box.
2. Don’t ice your oysters. These bivalves are alive and will die with ice on them. Pick them up from your retailer (he recommends his family’s business, Crosby’s) as close to your cooking time as possible, then keep them in a cool, dry place.
3. Oysters are not for everyone and unless your guests are “been yas,” they would not count on eating enough to suffice as dinner. Think of them as an appetizer and have something hearty as your entrée. Crosby suggests a big pot of chicken bog, Brunswick stew, fish stew, gumbo, or pilau.
4. Instead of an old piece of plywood for your oyster table, rent wood-trimmed, stainless steel-topped tables. Place each table on two sawhorses, and they’ll be just the right height.
5. When you set your oyster table, you must have a glove or a clean towel at each place along with an oyster knife. He suggests asking people to bring their own knives—it is part of locals’ DNA to have their own.
6. Make your own cocktail sauce. Then, buy small jars and label them to send home with guests. Crosby likes “tons of Texas Pete, fresh horseradish, fresh lemon, ketchup, a tiny bit of celery salt, fresh ground pepper, and Worcestershire,” he says.
7. Recycle your shells. The Department of Natural Resources can use old local shells to replenish oysterbeds. For info and drop-off points, click here.