Oyster shucking 101 at Hunt’s Restaurant


In this installment of “A Day in the Life of”, News 18’s Mandy McQueen and Tonya Pruitt, went to Hunt’s Restaurant to find out how they fared as oyster shuckers. 

We arrive at Hunt’s ready to work and we quickly learned there was a lot more to preparing and serving oysters than we had bargained for. 

Tonya: Ugh! Too bad we don’t have smell-o-vision.  I think I’m going to throw up.” Alright, I’m done.”

But before we could even start learning how to shuck oysters, we were sent outside to clean them first. After they got a good bath, we had to shovel away the “undesirables”.  Then it was back inside where Mr. Ricky Enfinger, general manager of Hunt’s Restaurant, explained how to properly shuck an oyster. 

“Always turn it away from what you are shucking. What you do….I use this right here for a place to put my hand and you take your knife and just snug it in there. Don’t get it too tight. Push it on in there where it will hold that oyster like this and then you just twist. Let’s get you a different one because you done broke the tip off of that one,’ said Enfinger. 

Tonya: I’ve done messed up….
Ricky: That’s right…..
Mandy: At least I didn’t break mine….
Ricky: When you lift it up, you lift it up like that.

Tonya: Alright, that was just a practice round. Now here’s the real deal, give me another easy one.

Ricky: I got you. 

And, let me tell you, it’s not as easy as it looks. After many and I do mean many attempts at “twisting” as Mr. Ricky calls it, we finally were successful. 

Tonya: So here’s the big question here… you’ve been doing this for 38 years, how many pearls have you found? 
Ricky: I find them usually between October and November. When I find the most pearls and we’ll find, during that month, 20 or 30. 
Tonya: Wow! Okay, so enough to make a necklace, huh?
Ricky: Oh, yeah. 

Ricky: She’s getting it down pretty good. 
Tonya: She’s being a show off. I see. 
Mandy: I was born for this.
Tonya: Not me. Alright, since we’re competitive here, Let’s see, I’ve got to get the hang of it. I’ve got to look like I know what I’m doing by the end of this segment. So how many oysters do y’all go through on the weekends?
Ricky: Uh, we’ll go through 50 or 60 bags on a good weekend.
Tonya: 50 or 60 bags? And, in those bags, That’s what? 20 dozen or so?
Ricky: Yeah, 18 to 20 dozen.
Tonya: That’s a lot of oysters. You know what they say about oysters don’t you?
Ricky: Yes, I do.

Moving right along…

So after the oyster shucking was mastered, it was onto learning how to be a waitress. 

Mandy: Don’t mess us up, Tonya. 
Tonya: I’m going to try not to. I’ve never been a waitress a day in my life so if I mess up, y’all be easy on ok? Ugh! I’m already making a mess….I’m so sorry. I will get that. 
Customer: They do it too.
Tonya: Do they? Let me see. I’ve already made a mess. 

After the mess was cleaned up, we hasd to put our customers orders in and then it was off to kitchen to retreive their food. 

Tonya: So this is us? 
Elizabeth: Yeah, and it comes with an extra plate. 
Tonya: Here you go. Is there anything else we can get you at this time? Oh no! We need to get your main order don’t we? We never even took your main order yet did we? See, we’re already fired. There’s a lot more to this than you would imagine because you do a little bit of everything don’t you? You’re a bartender, a waitress, a cashier…. 
Elizabeth: Plus, I bus tables….
Mandy: Tonya’s got a new career.  
Tonya: bus tables too? Oh, my gosh!

After I admittedly miserably failed as a waitress, we decided to test our abilities as a bartender instead.

Mandy: We upgraded to bartender.

After all of our customers were served and we stopped for a quick hug from a local vet, we decided we weren’t leaving that place without sampling some of those yummy oysters. Apparently, I couldn’t even get that part right. Where’s a Clorox pen when you need one? 

So at the end of the day, finally came the moment of truth…

Tonya: Alright, Mr. Ricky. Y’all have taught us how to shuck oysters. We’ve done that. We’ve done about everything. Thank you so much for letting us come in today so yay or nay? What’s the verdict? Would you hire us or not? 
Ricky: As a matter of fact, I already did. Here’s ya’ll’s warerobe. Y’all can get started anytime y’all get ready. 
Mandy: It’s official, Thank you.

Ricky: You’re welcome.

Tonya: So did y’all hear that? We have an extra job.  
Mandy: Goodbye, WDHN. We love you, but we’re leaving. 
Tonya: It’s been nice. 

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