Aw, Shucks: A First Time Experience Like No Other

Yesterday I did something that I’ve never done before in my life. For as long as I can remember I’ve enjoyed watching cooking shows like Chopped, Kitchen Nightmares, and Hell’s Kitchen but I’ve never prepared food for a large number of people before. Last night at Shelby Farms Park in Memphis there was a dinner held for all of the people who donated the millions of dollars for the renovations that have taken place at Shelby Farms over the last several years. Before the dinner a cocktail party was held on the AutoZone front porch overlooking future lake and I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity of working with Chef Dennis of the Kitchen Bistro to prepare hors d’oeuvres for the patrons. The first part of preparation was shucking nearly three hundred oysters, something I had absolutely no experience doing but once I got into a rhythm it turned out to be quite fun. If you’ve never done it before I would highly recommend trying it because it’s something not a lot of people know how to do and will give you a greater appreciation of the process it takes to get those delicious saltwater clams onto your plate. Over the course of my life I’ve spent a fair amount of time in Orange Beach, Alabama on the Gulf of Mexico and have eaten loads of seafood but never have I ever sucked a raw oyster into my mouth and let it slide effortlessly down my throat. I’d eaten them fried like any good American and a couple of years ago had them baked for the first time but never raw. I’m pretty adventurous when it comes to trying new food but the idea of slurping down a slimy raw oyster never really appealed to me. Yesterday I tried it and this is going to show my lack of appreciation for fine foods but after doing so I didn’t see what was so great about it. Everyone else raved about the flavor but honestly all I tasted was salt. It tasted like I had drunk the oyster straight out of the salty ocean. Perhaps over the course of my life I will gain a better appreciation for these creatures but as of now I’m not a fan.

In addition to shucking the oysters I also got to help prepare one of the other appetizers that was served and by prepare I mean that I took the chef’s delicious creations and arranged them on a plate trying my best to make them look aesthetically pleasing for the patrons of the park. First, I took the lamb sausage which may have been the best tasting sausage I’ve ever had and laid them on the plate trying my best with my clumsy hands not to move them once I set them down lest they create unattractive looking smears of grease along the porcelain surface of the plate. I then dabbed a tahiti sauce over the tops of them, a sauce which one person remarked was so delicious that they wished they could have an IV inserted into them and have the sauce continually pumped into their veins. It was obviously an exaggeration but the sauce was really good. I then took the chef’s creation of a finely diced medley of cucumber, bell peppers, and onions and sprinkled a small portion of that atop the sausage and then to complete the process inserted a toothpick giving the patrons easy accessibility to the tasty dish. Aside from the oysters and sausages that I helped with there was also pickled shrimp on a cracker topped with a creme fraiche and ratatouille atop a freshly baked flat bread the only vegan hors d’oeuvre offered last night. I can’t overstate enough how delicious everything was and although I didn’t love the oysters they were a huge hit among the guests at the party.

I haven’t yet eaten at the newly opened Kitchen Bistro in Memphis but after seeing and tasting some of the chef’s creations last night I am very excited to do so and hopefully will be able to in the coming weeks. If you want a fine dining experience like you’ve never had you need to pick up the phone and call 901-729-9009 to make your reservations today or find them on twitter at @kitchenbistros. They have brunch on the weekends, lunch throughout the week, and dinner service starts every afternoon at five. With a wide variety of options there is something that everyone can enjoy so don’t deny your tastebuds these great flavors any longer.

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