What better way to say goodbye to summer than a seafood feast with locally harvested bounty? On Saturday, September 1, the 2nd annual Shell it Out, in support of The East Hampton Shellfish Hatchery, returns to the Hamptons for an evening of oysters, clams, and scallops, and more.
“My husband and I launched Shell it Out last year as a way to give back,” Shell It Out co-chair Jeff Ragovin explained. “We’re pretty involved in the oyster garden program through the East Hampton Shellfish Hatchery and the event is all about raising awareness around keeping out waters clean.”
“The hatchery seeds millions of hard shells every year – oysters, clams and scallops,” Ragovin noted. “The oyster garden program gives residents the ability to grow their own oysters. The whole benefit is really to raise awareness of what the Hatchery is doing.”
The Hatchery, which has growing operations at a spawning facility on Fort Pond Bay in Montauk and a nursery at Gann Road on Three Mile Harbor, introduces more than two million oysters, four million clams, and a few hundred thousand scallops to the East End waters each year. A major benefit of the local Hatchery is oysters improve the area’s water quality by filtering it. One oyster filters up to 50 gallons each day, while a one acre oyster reef can filter up to 36 Olympic swimming pools of water each day.
In Three Mile Harbor, there are 60 plots of oysters, which boast 1,000 oysters per plot.
“If you’re a resident, you can take part in the program if there’s space available – Accabonac was just added this year,” Ragovin noted about the oyster garden program, which launched two years ago. “It’s pretty amazing. You get essentially 1,000 oyster seeds, so to speak, and throughout the season you go and maintain them and they grow and at the end of the year you’ve got enough oysters to feed a small town.”
Shell it Out will highlight the fruits of the Hatchery’s labor. “We have thousands of oysters – so we have lots and lots of oysters to go around. Lots of clams, shrimp cocktails, local smoked bluefish and striped bass, local scallops,” Ragovin relayed.
There will also be flowing rosé and white wines donated from Wainscott Main Wine & Spirits, as well as other bites.
This year’s auction will boast prizes from local businesses like Bay Kitchen Bar, Nick and Toni’s, Paddle Diva, Destination Haus, The Baker House, SoulCycle, City Row, and Babette’s, as well as works from a group of artists that include Kurt Giehl, Christina Sow, Chris Butler, Kirsten Benfield, Jane Martin, Janet Jennings, Jonathan Shafler, John Haubrich, Laureen Vellante, Kevin Bishop, Paul Dempsey, Janet Culbertson, Lisa Rose, Teresa Lawler, James Slezak, Lance Corey, Donna Corvi, Deborah Palmer, Alyssa Peek, Anna Franklin, Kenna Mackay, and Daniel Vernola.
“22 artists donated pieces for the auction,” shared Ragovin. “They donated something that’s a reflection of the water – it could be the bays, the ocean.”
In addition to Ragovin, the Host Committee includes Barley Dunne, Dr. Scarlett Magda, Kurt Giehl, Thomas Douaihy, Noa Schechter, Frank Quevedo, Kate Gilroy, the Bergsteins, Irene Tully, Kirsten Benfield, and Adrian Noriega.
“The ability to actually harvest clams and oysters is pretty amazing,” he reflected.
Next year, Ragovin and Hatchery supporters plan to expand their outreach with a new non-profit.
“The non-profit we are launching has an aim is to educate and raise awareness of the importance of sustainable marine aquaculture and inspire constructive action programs,” he shared. “A large part of the program will focus around education on shellfish gardening and understanding the importance of shellfish in our waters to sustain a healthy eco-system.”
“We’re looking forward to a big event this year celebrating the end of the summer and the ocean’s bounty,” Ragovin added. “Expect a ton of delicious bites, amazing art, music and more importantly a great cause!”
Admission to Shell it Out is $150 and tickets will be available at the door. The benefit will take place from 5 to 7 p.m.
Shell it Out will take place at 16 Fieldview Lane in East Hampton. For more information, visit www.shellitouthamptons.com.