Julie Qiu

Julie Qiu

Oyster Sommelier & Founder of In A Half Shell

The best piece of advice that I’ve ever gotten in life is from my mom. “Just try—or just ask. You never know until you do!” This simple idea has opened more doors and created more opportunities than I could ever imagine.

An oyster sommelier is a steward of oyster appreciation. Much like a Sommelier does for wine, oyster sommeliers provide additional services for raw bars and cultivate better oyster experiences for the restaurants and their customers.
I started a blog called In A Half Shell in 2009 to document my personal quest of seeking out the world’s best oysters, producers, shuckers, and destinations. Along the way, I developed an interest in sustainable seafood and saw a need for oyster education across the supply chain. I quickly realized that didn’t just want to be an end consumer; I wanted to help make the industry better using my expertise as a storyteller. My bivalve curiosity gradually became a calling, and the work of creating oyster appreciation tools, educational content, masterclasses, and social events that supports the emerging “oyster nerd” community were all manifestations of my newfound purpose. I also work for Australis Aquaculture, the world’s largest vertically-integrated barramundi far, as Marketing Director. The company’s mission is to enable home cooks and professional chefs to create a better world through their seafood choices. My job is to help our customers and end consumers discover, enjoy, and succeed in making meals with responsibly-raised seafood.
The three biggest lessons that I have learned so far in my career are: (1) Don’t wait for your dream job. Just get out there and create it for yourself. (2) The best form of a complaint is to act deliberately in a way that results in a better outcome. (3) Empathy is more powerful than expertise.
Real world experience has been the most impactful part of my career and has helped me make the transition between the advertising business and the seafood industry. In two years, I learned a lot about my strengths and weaknesses, which helped me see the opportunities in front of me much more clearly.
As a marketing director and an oyster sommelier, my expertise and value lies in the intersection of people, storytelling, and seafood. In order to be effective in both positions, I had to develop my skills in understanding and designing for other people’s needs and worldviews. Getting good at putting myself in my customer’s shoes, and then proactively developing solutions for their problems has been an ongoing practice. I think being truly customer-centric, even customer obsessed is a quality that is incredibly important to any restaurant & hospitality professional, marketer or business owner.
I find Inspiration outside of the restaurant industry. I keep tabs on what’s new and disruptive in consumer technology, consumer packaged goods, travel, transportation, beauty, and fashion.
The books that have helped me the most are Start With Why by Simon Sinek, This Is Marketing by Seth Godin, A Geography of Oysters / Essential Oyster by Rowan Jacobsen, and Four Fish by Paul Greenberg

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