Nick Hargrove & Derek Wilson, Wild Divers Oyster Co. (Saint Michaels, MD)
The forecast said rain and wind in earlier December when I went out on the Chesapeake with the men of Wild Divers Oyster Co. But the day instead dawned very clear and calm, though still cold, and as Nick Hargrove and Derek Wilson boated us out to an oyster bed close to the dock, shore birds flitted across the sky and the sun sparkled across the water. Then Derek suited up, dove down and soon Nick pulled up a basket filled with big, briny oysters hand selected from below. Those oysters, beyond the few we ate, are distributed to restaurants across Maryland, including the high-end establishments of Blue Point Hospitality Group helmed by their friend Chef Harley Peet, but for these two, it’s more than just a bivalve-- these oysters are a connection to their home and to a tradition they are working hard to carry on. There isn’t a “boater’s kit” for oyster diving, so a lot of their equipment is one-of-a-kind or things they built, and with it, Nick and Derek are forging a unique life for themselves and their families as well.