For a smokin’ $20 deal, you can spend an hour with seafood legend Jon Rowley and five other crab enthusiasts at Capitol Hill’s Taylor Shellfish learning how to crack a crab with minimal mess and maximum meat output.
With the intimacy of a small dinner party setting, Taylor Shellfish assembles a proper communal table stocked with everything you need for the hour: Cutting board, rock or square brick, crab mallet (designed by Rowley himself) and one of the most important components, a hefty napkin for a bib.
This class is modeled off a class Rowley spearheaded decades ago when he noticed crabs were not being served or ordered much in restaurants. He polled patrons to find out what was preventing them from ordering crab in restaurants. The resounding theme – Restaurants do not know how to the crustacean. Rowley created a curriculum to educate restaurants on how to prepare and present the crawly creatures.
In our 60 minute class, we get crackin’ (no pun intended) with the disassembling of our shellfish friend. Jon gets right to it and instructs us to start by pulling off the backs of the crab. Then, our crab master proceeds to walk us through the entire process by systematically walking through each step.
It is a good time learning how to optimally extract crab meat, but the real treat is spending an hour with a man who has revolutionized the way Americans approach oysters, crabs, fish, and more.
It is no wonder Rowley is the only inductee from the Evergreen state to make James Beard’s esteemed “Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America” list.
Don’t let Rowley’s soft-spoken disposition deter you from asking questions. We are an inquisitive group and we start picking Rowley’s brain about everything ranging from oysters and salmon to crabs. We learn he is partial to salmon from the Yukon River and his favorite oyster is the Virginica.
We enjoy the fruits of our labor by eating ourselves silly.
For a special treat, Jon sends me off with a doggie bag. He has one of the Taylor team members set aside the crab backs with the brains intact. Placed in a tough plastic wrapper, it is the doggie bag of a lifetime.
My Monday date night is complete.
Tip: Show up a few minutes early so you can chat up Jon as he is a masterful storyteller and seafood historian.