Courtesy Bmore Media – When Ryleigh’s Oyster first opened more than five years ago, the raw bar in Baltimore’s Federal Hill shucked about 500 oysters per week for its most adventurous eaters.
Today, with the oyster’s briny and Chesapeake Bay-friendly reputation luring more patrons to the bar, the place can breeze through as many as 5,000 of the bivalves in a week, Executive Chef Patrick Morrow says. More and more of those oysters are harvested from Baltimore’s backyard bay, thanks to a growing number of local oyster farms.
“People are becoming more aware that ‘farmed’ isn’t bad for the environment and that it’s actually helping the bay,” Morrow says, referring to an oyster’s ability to filter and clean up to 50 gallons of bay water each day.
It’s one of the many factoids that chefs like Morrow pick up when they have the chance to talk to oyster farmers and watermen face-to-face. Morrow and dozens of other Maryland chefs have had the chance to do just that via boat trips onto the Chesapeake Bay, hosted by Steve Vilnit, director of fisheries marketing for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. By taking some 300 Maryland and D.C. chefs out on the water this past summer alone, Vilnit is trying to convince more of them to take advantage of the Chesapeake Bay’s bounty. The trips will hopefully encourage more chefs to buy from small local fisherman and oyster companies, rather than big international suppliers.
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