Oysters For A Good Cause This Saturday


Tickets are still available for this Saturday’s Founded on Oyster Shells event benefiting New Amsterdam Market. A $50 ticket gets you 7 oysters, $100 gets you unlimited. Oysters in attendance include Chincoteagues from Toby Island Bay Oysters and Blue Points from Blue Island Oyster Company. Restaurants cooking up side dishes include Marlow and Sons and Home Restaurant. Tickets are available here, advanced purchase is required (you have until Saturday morning, or until they sell out). Earlier today, we talked with Robert LaValva, founder and director of the market. Our conversation is after the jump.

Where does the name of the event,  “Founded on Oyster Shells,” come from?
Historically, oysters have been a really big staple in the public markets of New York. In the olden days, the shores along the East River were all oyster shells, thick with oyster shells. That became Pearl Street, which took its name from the oysters, and that’s where the city’s earliest markets were, on the shoreline.

We’re also interested in what’s seasonal, and of course, oysters are really fresh right now.

How many people are you expecting this weekend?
The place holds up to 300 people, and we’re hoping to fill the room. We’ve got about a quarter of the way to go.

What’s the response been to the fundraiser so far?
This is our first official fundraiser, and response has been really really positive, thought this is sort of a crazy time for a fundraiser.  We made the ticket price as low as we could.

People realize that it’s an important mission, creating more outlets for regional farmers, especially during the economic downturn. There’s a lot of small businesses that could really use the support right now.

What’s the status of the market?
We’ve held the three 1-day markets, and the last two were really well attended. We’ve had continuous requests for more, so we realize that now is the time to begin doing it more frequently. Our plan now is to hold the market once a month.

We’re talking with the city about using a public site in downtown Manhattan, but we haven’t worked out all the details yet.

Will it not be at the seaport again?
Probably not, it’s just such a tricky situation.  The developer is apparently going bankrupt.  It’s just another level of complexity right now that we didn’t want to deal with. We just want to get the market going.

How soon will the next market happen?
We’re aiming to have it going by June. There are a lot of things to work out just for our own organization, but it’s reasonable. That’s our goal. And then it will happen every month.