After Woody Ruiz of Woody's Fish Tacos (www.facebook.com/woodysfishtacos) missed an opportunity to be a vendor at the New Orleans Oyster Festival, he decided to start his own event. Freret Oyster Jam kicks off at Freret Street Publiq House (4528 Freret St., 504-826-9912; www.publiqhouse.com) from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 19. Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door.
Ruiz was an oyster shucker for years and the experience helped him launch his fish taco business, he says.
The Jam will feature familiar shuckers from local oyster bars, including Mike Rogers of Casamento's Restaurant, Thomas Stewart from Pascal's Manale and Vince D'Aquila from Cooter Brown's Tavern. There also is an oyster shooter station and plenty of hot food options, including char-grilled oysters, Oysters Rockefeller, oyster pasta and fried oysters. Linda Green, aka "The Yakamein Lady," will serve oyster dressing.
"I'll also have the green vegan gumbo I made for the Treme Creole Gumbo Festival ... with an option to add oysters to it," Ruiz says.
Other choices include fish and alligator tacos, and Sven Vorkauf of Bratz Y'all will serve schnitzel, German bratwurst and his award-winning "drunken pig po-boy" from the Oak St. Po-boy Festival.
Raw Oyster Cult headlines the musical entertainment and New Orleans Suspects, the Mardi Gras Indian Orchestra and others perform. But the main attaction is simple.
"This is the time of year to eat oysters," Ruiz says.