Duke Landry has been shucking oysters since he was about 15-years-old, growing up working and at times playing with his brother in their family restaurant.
“We worked together and we were always pretty competitive, so we would say ‘let’s go’ and started shucking” Landry said. “Daddy was very strict on the cleanliness, so we would practice, but we would still have to be clean because they were still being presented to customers” he said.
It was in 1988, that Landry and his brother took their oyster shucking skills outside of the restaurant and into the streets.
“They had a competition- the seafood promotions board did- in New Orleans and we were by the French Quarter and somebody told us about it and we said let’s go over there and try it” Landry said. “I ended up getting first place and he got third and I don’t think he’s picked up an oyster knife ever since” said Landry.
Ever since, Landry has continued winning; representing Louisiana and the United States in oyster shucking competitions around the world, and doing well.
“The next year I went back and competed, and I won the whole thing” Landry said. “The following year I went back and did the same thing, the next year I ended up getting second place and I went back again and won again and they had a rule back then you could only win three times, so I sat out for about 20 years” he said.
Now, with his restaurant- Duke’s Seafood and Steakhouse with two Livingston Parish locations- complete, he’s back to representing Louisiana and our oyster industry again. This week he’ll head to Beijing, China to complete for one of two wildcard spots in the ‘World Cup’ of oyster shucking.
“We’ll open 18 oysters and the two fastest times they will go on to compete” Landry said.
An easy feat for the man who’s been around shucking his entire life. But more than a first place finish, Landry is happy to be able to bring a little taste of Louisiana to a worldwide stage.
“To know that that was all produced here in Louisiana and to take these skills and to talk to people halfway around the world about who we are and what we do” Landry said.
Landry will compete Friday in Beijing. You can learn more about the 2018 Shuck-off here: https://worldofoysterlicious.wixsite.com/shuckoff