Local oyster shucking champion to be featured on a documentary

Published: Jul. 14, 2022 at 9:05 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Many of us love to down a dozen raw oysters but not all of us like to dig them out.

That’s not a problem for Bay County’s Honor Allen. He can shuck an oyster almost faster than you can blink and he has the awards to prove it.

“Four-time U.S. Oyster Festival Champion and Five-time Florida Seafood festival Champion,” said Allen.

The reigning U.S. oyster champ is a popular face around Bay County. So popular he’s been featured on public relations videos for Destination Panama City.

While shooting that ad the video company out of Chicago was intrigued by Allen’s shucking skills.

“They wanted to do their own independent documentary on it once they learned a little bit more about the competitions in this local area,” said Allen.

The video company even followed Allen to competitions in China and Ireland.

You might not realize it but oyster shucking competitions are very involved. And it’s not as easy as he makes it look.

“Generally for like the state competition and the national competition there’s a set of 24 oysters... two dozen,” said Allen. “You’ll have a numbered tray to present your oysters on... after you shuck them those trays will go back to a blind panel of judges that will add penalty seconds for impurities in your set like if they’re still attached to the shell if they’re mangled if they have shell on them.. so on and so forth.

Whoever has the lowest final time wins. And winning is something Allen is used to.

“I get pretty serious when it comes to shucking events,” said Allen. “I’m not so much competitive about much of anything else. But I like winning shucking the competition.”

He’s even set a few records.

“I think it was 2020 the virtual competition for the national. They didn’t count it because there wasn’t any judging in it but speed wise I banged out those 24 oysters in 58 seconds,” Said Allen. “For a judged event I hold the state record at a minute and 42 seconds for a set of 24 that was judged a flawless set there was no penalties. "

People come from all over to Dat Cajun Place in Panama City Beach to watch Allen do his thing. Many get his autograph or enquire about upcoming competitions.

“We will be going to Milford, Connecticut, then the U.S. Oyster Festival in Maryland in October,” said Allen. “I’ll be going to Ireland in September and the Florida Seafood Festival in Apalachicola will be November.”

While shucking oysters for a living suits him just fine, for now, he has some big plans for the future.

“I probably won’t be shucking oysters for the rest of my life... at least not for a full-time job.”

He might not be shucking them but he does plan to grow them.

“Luckily enough you can get what’s called a user agreement with farmers that have extra acreage that they’re not occupying at the time,” said Allen.

The owner of West Bay Oyster Company is allowing Allen to sublease some of his water.

“In my opinion, it’s a goldmine waiting to happen out here in these bays,” said Allen. “Get my aquaculture AQ and start farming them bad babies.”

But he won’t completely give up competing.

“I’ll probably continue competing just to be around the community,” said Allen. “The people that are at these shucking competitions and the organizers of the festivals they’re all the salt of the earth you know..”

The name of the documentary is Honor’s Best. Journey of an oyster shucking champion. It will be shown on Apple TV in the next couple of weeks. You can see the full trailer on the Facebook page Honor’s Best.

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