World’s his oyster

Michael Moran is the National Oyster Opening Champion and is set to defend his title at the Galway International Oyster 7 Seafood Food Festival, which opens today and runs until Sunday.

World’s his oyster

The 28-year-old — the seventh generation of a family that has been running Moran’s Oyster Cottage in Galway for 250 years — has six Irish titles, three European and one world title for oyster-opening.

“This weekend, I’ll be opening 30 oysters. Presentation and speed are important. You get penalties if there’s grit in the oyster or slicing on the meat. My best time, so far, was two minutes and eight seconds — I’ve set myself the goal of breaking the two-minute barrier.”

Michael says he’s “still working” on getting his girlfriend, Triona, to enjoy oysters, which are considered an aphrodisiac.

“They’re an acquired taste,” he says.

What shape are you in?

I used to play lots of hurling, so I was really fit years ago. I’m trying to get back to that. I mix it up — once a week I run, swim and do yoga. I don’t always achieve it.

Do you have any health concerns?

Nothing, really. I’ve had my appendix out and I got viral meningitis when I was 18 or 19 — I fully recovered from that.

What are your healthiest eating habits?

I love blueberries and natural yoghurt. I love oysters, which have a lot of vitamin D and zinc. I love anchovies and mackerel.

What’s your guiltiest pleasure?

I drink a lot of coffee. I love espresso — working long hours in the restaurant, I’d have had 12 a day. I’ve cut back a lot.

What would keep you awake at night?

I always found that the longer I stayed working at night, the longer it took to unwind — you’re on a high if you’ve had 150 people in the restaurant. When I finish, at 9pm, I go to the sauna as a good way to unwind.

How do you relax?

By playing music — the guitar, violin, piano.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

Chef Marco Pierre White, Mick Jagger and Pink Floyd — they’d make for good banter and good stories.

What’s your favourite smell?

The seawater smell of native oysters. It has this freshness, this beautiful brininess.

What would you change about your appearance?

I don’t think I’d change anything. I’d like to get fitter, though.

When did you last cry?

I try not to. I gave a speech after winning the World Oyster Opening Championship in Galway. I shed a tear then — it was an emotional speech. My dad had won the competition in the late ’70s. It was the first time Ireland had done it in a while.

What trait do you least like in others?

Jealousy and arrogance.

What trait do you least like in yourself?

Sometimes, I’m too friendly. I speak to everybody. In cities like London and New York, chatting to people on subways is not the norm.

Do you pray?

Yes, regularly — my family would be very religious. Both my late grandmothers were very religious. My parents instilled in me a very good faith.

What would cheer up your day?

The smell of really good coffee in the morning.

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