By John Cirillo
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Talk about dynasties! Luis Iglesias captured the “Professional Oyster Shucking Championship” and $3,000 grand prize at the 14th Annual Grand Central Oyster Frenzy on Saturday, October 1. It was the ninth title for the native of Mexico in the 14-year history of the Oyster Frenzy held at the historic Grand Central Oyster Bar & Restaurant in New York City.
Iglesias formerly worked as a shucker at the Oyster Bar before moving to Norristown, Pa. last year.
Iglesias, dubbed the “Mexican Menace” as a teenage shucking phenom when he won his first title 13 years ago, defeated Jose Valdez in the third and final round. Valdez, a native of Santo Domingo, was the shucking champion in 2014. In all, 14 shuckers entered the competition.
“I felt very relaxed from the start,” said Iglesias, “more relaxed than ever before. It felt great to be back at the Oyster Bar, and even greater to win again.” Luis was runner up in last year’s competition but returned to form in his return to the Oyster Bar.
Blue Island Oyster Company, K&B Seafood, Element Seafood and Casale Jewelersjoined the Oyster Bar as co-sponsors of the competition which was comprised of three-grueling rounds.
Shkelqim Noka won his fourth straight “Beer-Shucking Championship,” taking the caps off of a case (24 bottles) of Blue Point Lager in just 18-seconds. Noka works at the Oyster Bar so he defended the title on his home turf. He was one-second off of his record-setting performance in 2014.
A 23-year-old from France now living in New York City, took home the “Slurp-Off” competitive eating contest, slurping down 10 oysters in 18-seconds to defeat nine opponents.
Q104.3 FM Radio personality Shelli Sonstein, oyster aficionado and co-host of “The Jim Kerr Rock and Roll Morning Show” served as MC.
The quartet of the Oyster Bar’s executive chef Sandy Ingber (a.k.a. Bishop of Bivalves), president Janet Poccia, vice president Mohammed Lawal, and general manager Frank Botta, joined yours truly in staging and coordinating the festivities.