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Everyone should know how to shuck an oyster: It's a simple technique that can elevate your dinner parties to a whole other stratosphere. John Bil, co-owner of Prince Edward Island's award-winning Ship to Shore restaurant and a former North American oyster shucking champion, is the man to teach you how it's done.

"In my opinion, five things are necessary for successful oyster enjoyment," Mr. Bil says. "A solid shucking surface, a thick cloth, a decent oyster knife, great oysters and confidence."

Keep in mind that from harvest time, East Coast oysters have about a two- to three-week shelf life; West Coast oysters last one to two weeks. Buy well-shaped oysters that are tightly closed and don't smell. (Be sure to buy them from a place that sells a lot of oysters.) Store them in your crisper drawer, covered with a damp cloth, as cold as you can without freezing them and as damp as you can without them sitting in water. An oyster knife can be found at restaurant supply stores (they cost $5-$20). Here, Mr. Bil walks us through the process.