We are a restaurant group born of an oyster farm and partnership between longtime friends and industry professionals Zack Mills (the Chef), Nick Shauman (the Shucker) and Patrick Hudson (the Farmer).
True Chesapeake Oyster Co. has been farming premium oysters in the beautiful brackish waters of St. Jerome Creek in Southern Maryland since 2010. Their farming practices are more than sustainable to the rich ecosystem of the Chesapeake Bay, they are restorative. Their flagship restaurant in Baltimore’s Hampden neighborhood,
True Chesapeake Oyster Co. made them Maryland’s first oyster farm to have a fine dining restaurant. The team also operates two locations of The Local Oyster, their casual raw bar and seafood joint, one in Baltimore’s Mount Vernon Marketplace and a two-story full service version in the Locust Point neighborhood. They aspire to create dining experiences showcasing their oysters, true to Maryland’s heritage, and celebrating the bounty of the region.
A native of Davidsonville, Maryland, Zack Mills graduated from The French Culinary Institute in 2007. Immediately following graduation, Mills began working in various kitchens in the Washington, D.C. area before landing a job as a sous chef at Bourbon Steak, a Michael Mina restaurant located in Four Seasons Hotel Washington, D.C.
During his tenure there, Bourbon Steak received 3 stars in the Washington Post and Washingtonian dining guides and was named Fine Dining Restaurant of the Year by the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington. In 2012, Mills accepted the opportunity of a lifetime to join Mina Group as a corporate sous chef working under the direction of Michael Mina.
There, he oversaw the culinary operations for the James Beard award-winning chef’s East Coast restaurants along with several notable restaurant openings including PABU in Baltimore, Maryland; The Handle Bar in Jackson Hole, Wyoming; and Pub 1842 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Continuing under Mina’s mentorship, Mills accepted the executive chef position at Wit & Wisdom, Mina’s upscale American tavern located in Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore. Under Mills’ leadership, Wit & Wisdom was named one of Baltimore’s Best Restaurants by both the Baltimore Sun and Baltimore Magazine.
Since opening, True Chesapeake Oyster Co has received four-and-a-half out of five stars in the Baltimore Sun and was voted Best New Restaurant by the Baltimore Magazine Reader’s Poll. Giving back to the community has always been a top priority for Mills.
He continues to volunteer his time cooking for national charitable organizations including No Kid Hungry and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. He was the 2016 winner of Baltimore’s “The Supper” chef competition to benefit the Saint Agnes Foundation and has also appeared on the Food Network’s competition series Chopped, as well as Food Network’s first ever plant-based cooking competition, It’s CompliPlated.
Nick Schauman is a Charm City native with local traditions and Maryland seafood running through his Old-Bay-scented blood. He grew up eating steamed crabs, Grandma’s crab soup and raw oysters at Lexington Market.
Nick graduated from the University of Maryland with a degree in design, and after several years working as a jack of all trades, he went to culinary school with dreams of bringing his childhood traditions to life. In 2013 he succeeded, creating Baltimore’s first traveling oyster bar, The Local Oyster.
After a few short years, The Local Oyster has gained a loyal following and is recognized as one of the best oyster bars in Baltimore by Baltimore Magazine and one of “Baltimore's 100 essential food and drink experiences” according to the Baltimore Sun.
Patrick Hudson never dreamed he’d be an oyster farmer (let alone the managing partner of a budding restaurant group). Born and raised in Baltimore, Patrick attended Gilman School and studied Economics and Portuguese at The University of Virginia.
After spending two years working as a legal analyst in Sao Paulo, Brazil, he returned to Baltimore and picked up a hobby of “oyster gardening” with his father on a small plot of land in Southern Maryland. Growing oysters in the pristine waters of St. Jerome’s Creek soon turned into a full-time job, and today True Chesapeake Oyster Co is Maryland’s premier oyster farm, selling over 1 million oysters a year to retailers like Whole Foods and restaurants nationwide.
Patrick bounces back and forth from the farm, the Local Oyster locations, and the restaurant in Whitehall Mill.