Tualatin police bring the heat in oyster-eating contest
They were outnumbered and on unfamiliar ground — but the Tualatin Police Department nonetheless walked away the blowout victors in an oyster-eating contest for charity Saturday morning, Aug. 26, at Ways & Means Oyster House in Bridgeport Village.
Officers Chet Lemon and Jorge Solache combined to dispatch 91 oysters — in a minute and a half each — to easily top teams of three from the Tigard Police Department and Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue, which tied for second place with 76 oysters eaten.
"That's, like, the biggest upset," Ways & Means co-owner Parnell Delcham remarked, chuckling, after the emptied half-shells were counted up and a winner declared.
The "Shuck-It" eating contest was held to celebrate the grand opening of Ways & Means Oyster House at Bridgeport Village. The Huntington Beach, Calif.-based restaurant is embarking on an ambitious expansion plan, and Tigard is just its second location as it looks to become a nationwide chain.
The three agencies participating in the contest each selected a charity to support, and none will be left empty-handed. Delcham said the Tualatin Community Police Foundation, chosen by the victorious Tualatin Police Department, will receive $3 for each of the 91 oysters that Lemon and Solache downed, as well as a cut of proceeds from brunch orders at the restaurant Saturday morning. The Chelsea Hicks Foundation and the Jeffrey D. Johnson Community Assistance Program, charities selected by the Tigard Police Department and Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue respectively, will each get $100 from Ways & Means.
The winning team was an officer short, but Lemon and Solache managed to outclass their competition anyway.
"I wrote them off," Delcham admitted afterward. "They killed it."
Delcham was especially impressed that the Tualatin police duo doused their oysters — the restaurant's "Ways & Means West" variety, from Northern California — with hot sauce before slurping them down.
"They did it with style," he laughed.
Ways & Means has held oyster-eating contests at its Huntington Beach location previously. Delcham said the record set there is 96 oysters in three minutes.
Solache seemed to feel that time was the only real constraint for him in the contest.
"I could still eat more," he said.
Asked whether he likes oysters — perhaps an absurd question, after he slammed down close to 50 of them in 90 seconds — Solache responded simply, "I like food." He added hot sauce, he explained, because "that's how I eat my oysters."
Ways & Means currently serves eight varieties of oysters, including three from Washington. Dan Schneider, the restaurant's vice president of operations, said the company plans to add some Oregon-grown oysters to its menu in the future, with Delcham noting that it has had some difficulty in finding an Oregon supplier that yields enough oysters to meet Ways & Means' demand.
The restaurant also serves seafood and other fare beyond oysters. It has a wine cellar and full-service bar as well, which does feature several wines, craft beers and spirits from Oregon.
Ways & Means Oyster House is located at 7331 S.W. Bridgeport Road in Tigard, next to the Regal Cinemas movie theater.
By Mark Miller
Assistant Editor, The Times
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