What Are 'Reserve Oysters,' & Why Are Chefs In Love With Them

As far back as he can remember, Neal Maloney wanted to work in the water. At five, he recalls watching fishermen dive the tide pools near Mendocino, California; at 35, the goateed marine biologist and oyster farmer has far surpassed his childhood aspirations.

Maloney, who founded Morro Bay Oyster Company on California's Central Coast ten years ago, has since garnered a reputation for selling some of the most prized oysters on the West Coast. His Pacific Golds, reared on floating long lines in the mineral-rich, aquifer-infused cold waters of Morro Bay, have graced the menus in the dining rooms of Restaurant Daniel, Pacific Table in Texas and David LeFevre’s Fishing with Dynamite in Manhattan Beach. 

Maloney has come a long way, from overseeing Tomales Bay Oyster Company’s Morro Bay operation in his early twenties, to buying the farm at just twenty-five years old, selling his shells on the side of the highway and through local farmers markets. Today, he supplies some of the best chefs across the U.S. But, like a small slew of West Coast oyster farmers, Maloney keeps pushing forward with cutting-edge technology—including the West Coast's second depuration system that filters out stormwater runoff through the rainy season—and an innovative tide-tumbling technique for his Pacific Gold Reserves.

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