With special knives and remarkable elan, the contestants had their bivalves opened and prepped in literally record time.

The best bit about watching an oyster shucking contest is eating the winners. Not the people but the oysters. And the losers too, with a dash of Tabasco sauce of course.

TABASCO® Brand British Oyster Opening Championship celebrates the start of Britain’s native oyster season each year.

It’s a scored competition that challenges shuckers to open and present 30 native oysters as quickly and professionally as possible, before serving their platter of impeccably presented oysters to a panel of judges.

Brian Turner, chef of note, was once again in the chair as Master of Ceremonies, doing his best to keep order while seeing how many shucking jokes he could get away with. Quite a few as it happened.

Sixteen pros turned up to do battle but their could be only one winner, Federico Fiorillo of Bentley’s Oyster Bar & Grill, he scored a time of 3 minutes 19 seconds – that’s 6.6 seconds per oyster. Fiorillo also secures a place as part of the his prize to represent Britain at the World Oyster Opening Championship later this month in Galway, Ireland.

The Foodepedia team, all two of us, competed to see who could drink the most champagne and Guinness and eat the most oysters, the Loch Fyne type and supplied by Rossmore Oysters.

I think it was a draw but we were both well into double figures by the end because the oysters were such superb quality.

Tabasco is probably the best known and most used oyster enhancer since around 1905 and is genuinely my favourite with oysters although a squeeze of lemon does no harm either.