Oyster Stories

Julie Qiu, Oyster Enthusiast, Oyster Sommelier & Bivalve Blogger

My love of seafood and curiosity were the driving factors behind how In A Half Shell got started in the first place. After years of research, reading, traveling, speaking with scientists, growers, and experts in the industry, and of course, tasting a lot of oysters, I found myself in a position of expertise. I had a strong desire to share this information with others, and that manifested itself in experiences and products. I've probably tried over 400 "varieties" from around the world now — I've had oysters grown on every continent except Antarctica, and have traveled to five continents to savour them. The more that I learned, the more I felt intrigued by the production side of the oyster, as well as the sustainability aspect. And while there is no official certification process (yet) to become an oyster sommelier -- which is simply a phrase that I coined up myself to try and capture what it is I offer/do -- I hope to create a program someday. As a start, I produced an 8-video Oyster class for Skillshare, a popular online learning platform. If you are interested in learning more, you should take my Oyster Mastery class!

Julie Qiu, hosts a unique website called "In A Half Shell" that champions oyster appreciation and showcases the most exceptional oysters, oyster bars, growers and destinations from around the world.

Oysters for a Cause

When I decided I wanted to learn more about the sexy, salty, delicious oysters I love slurping (and painting) so much, I was overwhelmed – both by how much there was to learn about a creature I thought was pretty simple and also by the relationships between oysters and the environment.

One of the first resources I discovered was the Billion Oyster Project (BOP,) and they caught my attention because there’s a local connection.  BOP’s goal is to distribute one billion oysters across 100 acres of oyster reefs in New York Harbor by 2030. 

It’s an ambitious goal, but it’s one that matters. 

The waters of New York Harbor were home to 220 acres of oyster reefs when Henry Hudson sailed into them in 1609.  By 1906 the oysters were gone, and years of dumping toxic waste into the harbor had rendered the waters unfit for any marine life.  Even oysters – who filter the water they inhabit – couldn’t survive.

But critical environmental regulation has begun to turn things around for New York Harbor, and BOP aims to make the waters even cleaner, turning the harbor into a thriving marine ecosystem once again – a place where healthy oysters make waters even cleaner.

When I decided I wanted to find a way to improve the environment through the sale of my art prints, I selected BOP as one of the causes I’d support.  Every oyster print that’s purchased supports BOP and other great organizations.

My hope is participate in restoring New York Harbor, even if it’s in my own modest way.  Your support matters to me and to BOP.