An Aberdeen chef got more than he bargained for when he prised open an oyster while prepping for service.
Karl Wilkinson, who is chef de partie at The Silver Darling, discovered a beautiful rare pearl inside one of the molluscs.
It is the first time any of the chefs at the acclaimed Fittie restaurant have ever found a pearl in an oyster – including head chef Craig Sommers, who has been working in seafood restaurants for more than two decades.
Making the find more unusual was the fact that pearls aren’t normally found in the variety Karl was preparing, Carlingford rock oysters from Ireland.
Karl, 37, who has worked at the restaurant for two years, now plans to get the pearl made into a piece of jewellery for his wife Charley, 27.
He said: “Initially I just thought it was a bit of polystyrene packaging from when we were unpacking the oysters.
“I was really surprised when I discovered what it actually was.
“It’s really rare – I know Craig has been doing the job about 20 years and he has never come across one before.
“It was a massive surprise.
“My colleagues couldn’t believe it when I showed them what I’d found.
“Everyone in the restaurant has had a look at it. They were all really surprised when I showed them what it was.”
He added: “I did go and have it looked at and valued and I’ve decided I’m going to keep it. I’m going to make it into a bit of jewellery for Charley.”
Head chef Craig said it is the first time he’s ever seen anything like it in his career in the food industry.
He said: “It’s quite mad. I found out it’s about 1 in every 15,000 oysters that have one seemingly.
“It’s the first time I’ve ever seen one.
“We were opening the oysters to make an oyster emulsion, which we make with oils into an oyster mayonnaise kind of thing, and just on the inside lip of the oyster Karl found it.
“When I spoke to our suppliers, they had never heard of anyone finding one either and they sell thousands of them.
“I let Karl keep it as he was the one who found it and he’s thinking of getting it mounted onto a ring or made into a necklace for his wife.
“He went to get it valued and he’s decided to get it made into jewellery for sentimental value more than anything.”