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One is not like the Others

Written by Antonia M. Krenza & Laney Roberts on Wednesday, 29 August 2012. Posted in Servers, Eat This Fall! 2012

One is not like  the Others

Diversity is what makes the F&B industry so amazing, from fast food to fine dining, raw sashimi to a fish fry; the possibilities are endless. These culinary complexities and dining styles have forced the server to evolve and diversify as well. No longer is a server simply an order taker; he or she is also a table side entertainer and an educator. As the patrons' food and wine knowledge have matured, so has their demand for more inspired and specialized service. Therefore, we, as a public have brought a whole new cadre of "servers" into the limelight.

SUBJECT: Nate Alton- Master Shucker
Oyster Sommelier at Pearlz (Downtown)

Origins: Rhode Island

Education: College of Charleston 
Business Administration 

F&B Evolution: Although Nate worked briefly in a hospital cafeteria and as a bus boy at Joe's Crab Shack in his youth, it was working on a farm that brought him fully into the culinary industry. An oyster farm, that is. After his stint at CofC, he returned to Rhode Island in need of a job. He started as a box packer at the largest shellfish company in the United States- American Mussel. In three years time, he moved up the ranks to Quality Assurance Manager and discovered his life passion- the oyster. It was Charleston's wild oyster population, along with the city's fascinating cultural and historical connection with these succulent aphrodisiacs, that brought him back to the Lowcountry and landed him at Pearlz. That was 7 years ago! 

Favorite Oyster: "Belon"- European flat oyster typically found in France, England, & Ireland. In the US, there is a single spot in Maine, a unique micro-aquaculture, in which this oyster varietal is cultivated. The "Belon" possesses a bright metallic taste with a long finish that at first surprises and then addicts.

Favorite Culinary Tome: "Sex, Death and Oysters" by Robb Walsh

Biggest Shucker Nightmare: Carpal Tunnel. Shucking hundreds of dozens of oysters each week can take its toll.

Nate's Holy Trinity: Oysters/Guiness/Pork

Pearlz Signature Cocktail: Oyster Shooter - Pearlz Cracked Pepper Vodka, Housemade Cocktail Sauce, Freshly Shucked Oyster.

Passionate Distractions: Red Sox, Patriots, Bruins, Celtics. Dining at Wild Olive, FIG, The Macintosh and Heart Woodfire Kitchen.

What the Future Holds: Aquaculture. Nate and friends are cultivating oysters on Folly Beach creating what they hope to be one of Charleston's first producing oyster farms. Oh and attending the penultimate oyster shucking contest in Ireland, someday!

Philosophy: "Merrior". Nate approaches oysters like sommeliers approach wine - with an understanding that "place" (terroir) lends uniqueness to individual species. He is part of an international brethren of shuckers who pride themselves on expert knowledge and amazing speed. He wants everyone to know that their palate can travel the world without ever leaving their seats. With the right oysters and a skilled 

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