oyster love

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.

Why Oysters?

I grew up near the sea, in South Carolina and southern France.  For my entire life, when I’ve needed to recharge, I’ve sought out the salty air, the perpetual tides, and the bounty of the sea.  It’s been medicine, nourishment, and inspiration for my life and work.

Oysters are such simple creatures.  They begin life as tiny larvae that attach to hard surfaces.  They grow their own shells to protect their delicate bodies.  They filter their nutrients from the waters in which they live and grow, making their environment cleaner in the process.  It’s a symbiosis that I find beguiling.

Eating a raw oyster is such a primitive act.  We use sharp tools to pry open the sturdy shell of a living creature.  We loosen its grip on the shell.  We may splash on tangy, fresh lemon juice and a little hot sauce, and down the hatch it goes.  Years of work and growth packaged in a delicious, briny bath.  It’s hedonistic.  It’s sexy.  It’s a ritual that oyster lovers consider near-holy.

Oysters matter.  They’re one of the few food sources that actually improve the environment in which they’re raised.  Plummeting populations indicate waterways in dire need of recovery and preservation.  And in building up oyster populations in vulnerable bodies of water, we’re becoming part of the solution.

Why oysters?  Why not?