Jeff Noye and Damien Enman want you to come to their kitchen and feel like you’re home

Tyne Valley is the perfect place for an oyster business.

“This is the centre of the oyster universe,” Jeff Noye, co-owner of Valley Pearl Oysters (and mayor of Tyne Valley) said. “Even the rink here sells fried oysters. It’s on the regular menu.”

Valley Pearl Oysters is a processing facility and oyster bar right in Tyne Valley just behind Dillon’s Convenience and Pizzeria. The community has a rich history of oyster fishing and processing. The annual Tyne Valley Oyster Festival draws thousands of people from all over Atlantic Canada for music and oyster dinners. The highlight of the festival is the shucking competition which has been running since 1973. Nearby in Ellerslie is the Bideford Shellfish Hatchery.
Valley Pearl Oysters has been processing oysters since June 2018, and in December of last year business partners Noye and Damien Enman opened a bar above the processing floor.

Valley Pearl’s focus is on premium wild oysters. Noye said they do some cultured but the wild are a nicer oyster.
“Right now we’re shipping just within Canada, but we recently got the go-ahead to ship to the States and other countries we’ll be looking at in 2019.”

l-r: Jeff Noye, Trent MacDougall, Damien Enman, and Eddie Gillis //Photo credit: Laura Weatherbie/Salty

He said the demand for them locally is pretty high and they’re fulfilling that market right now as well as buyers in Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal.

To that end Noye is still going out to the lease most days and will do so until April. “A lot of wholesalers are looking for product as they know we’re still fishing, but right now I want to keep the guys that have been buying from me year-round happy.”

He said the feedback has be great so far which he puts down to tough grading. “We have a machine that sizes them but we grade every oyster by hand.”

Friday and Saturday nights there is food, music, and drinks upstairs.

Noye said the locals now refer to the place as “Jeff and Damien’s” and that suits them just fine. “We want people to feeling like they’re coming over for a kitchen party at somebody’s house, I didn’t want everyone to feel like they were at a bar. I want them to feel like they’re at the cottage, with a bonfire outside. So far, so good.”

He said the menu changes all the time. It’s not written down. Sometimes it’s barbecued chicken or smoked brisket, but there are always mussels and oysters both cooked and, of course, raw.

Wild oysters are harvested by Valley Pearl //Photo Credit: Laura Weatherbie/Salty

He said all his duties—as mayor, fisher, barkeep, father—keep him very busy. “There is no time! Right now it’s busy with just being open two days a week. In the summer we plan on being open five days a week. We’ll likely bring on a chef and some staff; right now it’s just Damien and me. We have friends that help out when needed.”

Noye became mayor of Tyne Valley last year and at the same time stepped down from his duties as the chair of the Tyne Valley Oyster Festival after 15 years. “But I’m still in charge of the shucking competition; that’s kind of my baby,” he said. “Of all the changes to the festival over the years the elevation of the shucking competition is the one I’m most proud of.”

The oyster festival shucking contest is the only way to qualify from Canada for the world championship contest in Ireland.

“It’s like the Olympics. People take it pretty seriously. We get the top shuckers and there isn’t anything they wouldn’t give to win it.”

Valley Pearl Oyster is open for wholesale and retail during the week and the oyster bar is open Friday and Saturday evenings.

About Rod Weatherbie

Rod Weatherbie is a writer working in the hospitality industry. He spent a number of years in Toronto as a member of the financial press before returning to PEI. Rod has published one piece of short fiction, one book of poetry, and has had work published in Red Shift, the Antigonish Review, Mitre, and the Toronto Quarterly. He has also recently co-produced, co-directed, and acted in a stage production of old television shows.

He also likes writing about food. Go figure.

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