Alabama Oyster Social in Auburn Jan. 30 a 'party for a purpose'

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Farm-raised oysters, one of the hottest items on the menus of the South's trendiest restaurants, will take center stage at the first-ever Alabama Oyster Social hosted by Chef David Bancroft of Acre restaurant in Auburn on Friday, Jan. 30. Proceeds from ticket sales will benefit the Auburn University School of Fisheries, Aquaculture and Aquatic Sciences, SFAAS, and their on-going efforts to establish oyster farming on the Gulf Coast.

Along with Bancroft, a collection of some of the South's most acclaimed chefs will be preparing the evening's oyster-centered menu, Chef Adam Evans of Atlanta's The Optimist, Chef Jason Stanhope of FIG in Charleston, and Alabama chefs Rob McDaniel and Wesley True.

"This event is a collaborative effort of the food and beverage community to support those who make their living from the Gulf and the Auburn researchers who help them succeed. It's a party for a purpose," said Bancroft, whose grandfather is an Alabama catfish and tilapia farmer who has worked with SFAAS researchers for 35 years. "We understand the ecological and economic value of sustainable fisheries, and in particular, we want to highlight the quality of sustainably farmed oysters being produced on Alabama's coast."

Bancroft points to efforts of SFAAS faculty researchers like Bill Walton, whose work to establish oyster farming near the Auburn University Shellfish Laboratory on Dauphin Island are creating a new market for fishermen and producing shellfish that have earned praise for their taste and quality. Most recently, oysters from two of the farms working with Walton and the lab were included in Southern Living magazine's list of the South's best farmed oysters.

"This is an excellent opportunity to showcase Alabama-grown oysters," said Walton, who is helping secure about 4,000 of the salty bivalves from farmers for the event. "It's a great time of year to celebrate oysters in Alabama, because ours peak in winter. Gulf oysters become full and plump in the chilly water."

In addition to Acre and SFAAS, those partnering to make the event happen include Alabama Gulf Seafood, the Consortium for the Advancement of Southern Oyster Mariculture, Evans Meats, Auburn and Opelika Tourism Bureau, the Hotel at Auburn University and others.

Acre is located at 210 E. Glenn Ave. in Auburn. To learn more about the event, visit Tickets are $55 and can be purchased through the website. For more information, contact Bancroft at (334) 663-4482 or Walton at (251) 861-3018, ext. 2.

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