PHOTOS: Tofino crowns inaugural oyster shucking champion

Chris Manocchio unleashes after taking first place and a $1500 cash prize at the Tofino Oyster Festival Shucker’s Showdown on Nov. 27 at the Shore Pier. (Marcie Callewaert photos)Chris Manocchio unleashes after taking first place and a $1500 cash prize at the Tofino Oyster Festival Shucker’s Showdown on Nov. 27 at the Shore Pier. (Marcie Callewaert photos)
Chris Manocchio celebrates the honour with Tofino Oyster Festival co-organizers Ryan Orr, centre, and Ronnie Lee.Chris Manocchio celebrates the honour with Tofino Oyster Festival co-organizers Ryan Orr, centre, and Ronnie Lee.
Onlookers watch the competitors closely during the first of five heats.Onlookers watch the competitors closely during the first of five heats.
Fanny Bay Oysters was represented by Malindi Taylor and Hannah Hang who competed in the first heat of the competition.Fanny Bay Oysters was represented by Malindi Taylor and Hannah Hang who competed in the first heat of the competition.
A competitor focuses on the technical task of shucking an oyster.A competitor focuses on the technical task of shucking an oyster.
Three competitors hold up their oyster knifes after successfully shucking 12 mollusks.Three competitors hold up their oyster knifes after successfully shucking 12 mollusks.
Co-organizer Ronnie Lee with son Lucas, and partner Morgan Coyle, dancing before the contest kicks off. (Marcie Callewaert photos)Co-organizer Ronnie Lee with son Lucas, and partner Morgan Coyle, dancing before the contest kicks off. (Marcie Callewaert photos)
Event promotor Kimberly Leckey slips on a handmade mask at the kid’s craft table.Event promotor Kimberly Leckey slips on a handmade mask at the kid’s craft table.
Ronald Ho and Jinglin Tang, enjoying the variety of oysters and seasonings being offered. They travelled from Richmond after winning a prize package from the festival sponsors, including a stay at Pacific Sands resort and tickets to the festival.Ronald Ho and Jinglin Tang, enjoying the variety of oysters and seasonings being offered. They travelled from Richmond after winning a prize package from the festival sponsors, including a stay at Pacific Sands resort and tickets to the festival.

Chris Manocchio, a Toronto-based oyster shucker, beat out 15 other competitors from all-over Canada to take home the first-ever Tofino Oyster Festival trophy and a prize purse of $1,500 on Nov. 27 at the Shore Pier.

In the grand finale, Manocchio masterfully shucked 18 oysters the fastest in front of an ecstatic crowd. Mike Gill placed second, earning a cash prize of $1,000, and Mike Osborne placed third, taking home a cool $500.

“The oysters were great and the people are always great at these things. I was just looking for a really good excuse to come out here and this was the best one I could think of,” said Manocchio.

Manocchio is no stranger to the oyster shucking competitions. In 2022, he won the Canadian oyster shucking championships in Prince Edward Island and he’s also travelled to Ireland to represent Canada at the world shucking championships. He told the Westerly he was a little embarrassed by his initial performance in Tofino.

“Honestly, I was very worried. I didn’t think I would make it to the second round. But I got a second chance and that’s where I think I delivered. It was a good day for me,” said Manocchio after nabbing the title. He went on to say he would save some of his winnings after buying his friends a round at the bar to celebrate.

The Shucker’s Showdown wrapped up three days of Tofino Oyster Festival fun.

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