Chris Quartuccio went from being a man with a van and some scuba gear — while selling clams and oysters he’d catch to restaurants in NYC and Long Island — to running a national operation.

His Blue Island Oyster Company now ships around the world, and has trucks and offices in Miami, Las Vegas and Los Angeles. 

Just last fall, Blue Island opened a farm-to-table restaurant in Denver called Blue Island Oyster Bar.

“Blue Island basically got started with me digging clams out of the bay, maybe when I was 12, going to Browns River,” Quartuccio said. “It was probably 1995 that I started Blue Island Oyster Company and was harvesting clams from the bay and oysters from the Sound.”

He was at the forefront of the farm-to-table movement, something that has exploded in recent years, carrying the company with it.

And Quartuccio says people eat out much more nowadays than they did just a couple decades ago, creating even more of a demand for fresh shellfish.

”Eating out today is what going to the theater was 20, 30 years ago,” he said. “The amount of money we spend on eating out now is like quadruple what it was in the 1970s.”

He also believes the popularity of sushi has allayed many peoples’ fears about eating raw.

Today, Blue Island is farming oysters in the Great South Bay, near Captree State Park. They offer guided kayak tours to the underwater farm.

Click here to learn more about the tours and to book.

Top photo: The Blue Island Oyster Company oyster farm near Captree.