Hungry, hungry firefighters may have taken first place, but three good causes scored the biggest win Saturday morning during a speed-eating feast that raised more than a thousand dollars for charity.
About 300 raw oysters disappeared down the gullets of local first responders from Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue and the Lake Oswego and Beaverton police departments during the second-annual "Shuck It Challenge."
The event was hosted by Ways & Means Oyster House, 7331 S.W. Bridgeport Road, whose owners donated $3 for each mollusk consumed.
"The game plan is to distract the other teams, and to keep my guys focused on groundin' and poundin' and eating as many oysters as they can," said TVF&R Capt. David Pearson before the bouts began.
Some of the contenders put on bibs and latex gloves to prepare for the task at hand, while other applied liberal doses of tabasco sauce. With each round lasting just 60 seconds, nobody had time to waste savoring.
"You don't chew, and it's all about speed," advised Lake Oswego Officer Nathan Burk, who said he was competing on an empty stomach except for "four cups of coffee" and all the spaghetti he downed the night before. Joining him on the LOPD team were Officers Johnna Richards and Teri Gilbert, and Lake Oswego Review Editor Gary Stein.
The teams of four each needed a second metal bucket to catch all the shucked shells, while assistants stood by with replacement trays of oysters on ice. Lt. Darren Fletchall is an 18-year veteran of the Beaverton Police Department but was a first-timer at the oyster-ingesting competition. He's encountered oysters before, he said, but usually they're on his backyard grill.
"I actually love oysters. I've eaten them in a half-shell raw, but nothing like this," Fletchall said.
Jennifer Delcham, a co-owner of the restaurant that opened in Bridgeport Village about a year ago, announced that Ways & Means would donate another $100 to each charity on top of the original amount raised. There were also T-shirts for sale and donation buckets, and the restaurant donated $1 for every brunch purchased by noon on Saturday.
"We really have a soft spot in our hearts for first responders," Delcham explained. "I don't wake up every day and put myself at risk. I serve oysters."
And the winners are:
First Place: Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue — 110 oysters consumed for Just Compassion, which operates several local homeless shelters.
Second Place: Lake Oswego Police Department — 105 oysters consumed for Oregon Fallen Badge Association, which serves the families of those who die in the line of duty.
Third Place: Beaverton Police Department — 89 oysters consumed for the department's Shop with a Cop back-to-school program.