Flemish teacher wins world shrimp peeling championship


A pre-school teacher who learned to speed-peel shrimp as a child in her parents’ restaurant has won the Grey Shrimp Peeling World Championship in France

Belgian ‘not expected to win’

The fastest peeler of grey shrimp in the world is from Wenduine on the Flemish coast. The world championship peeling event took place in Dunkirk at the weekend, and Katty Vanmassenhove took home the sash.

Vanmassenhove (pictured) does not peel shrimp by trade; she is in fact a pre-school teacher. But her parents own the Westhinder restaurant just outside of Wenduine, a district of De Haan, and she helped out while growing up there. Wenduine happens to be known for its homemade shrimp croquettes.

The contest finds more than 100 contestants peeling for 10 minutes. The peeled shrimp are then weighed to see who peeled the most grams. Vanmassenhove won with 112 grams of peeled shrimp (or about 125 shrimp).

Local speciality

“They had absolutely not expected a Belgian to win the title,” Vanmassenhove told VRT. “They didn’t have the Belgian national anthem on hand when I took the podium to accept the award.”

They shouldn’t have been so surprised: The small shrimp, known as grijze garnaal in Dutch, are a speciality in Belgium, as they are harvested in abundance from the North Sea.

The Westhinder restaurant, by the way, is special for a reason other than its croquettes: It is the only restaurant located right on the sand at the coast. Out of the way and with a magnificent view of the sea, it is located on the beach just off the N34 at the far northern end of De Haan.

Photo: Katty Vanmassenhove proves her mettle at her familys restaurant in De Haan
©Courtesy VRT