We have a chat with Kirsty and Fenella the owners of The Seafood Shack, a popular foodie find in Ullapool, about their book!
The Seafood Shack’s recipe book bursting with delicious seafood recipes and lovely local stories.
We can’t wait to get cooking and give some of these tasty dishes a go.
But first, let’s find out a bit more about to the authors, chefs and businesswomen themselves!
What inspired you guys to write your first cookbook?
A massive driving force for us was the inspiration we get from our local fishermen; we knew that alongside our recipes the interviews with them would provide such lovely and interesting reading. What they do each day truly is inspiring and we wanted to share that with everyone. Our recipes are the base of the book, and we have been just so overwhelmed with the response and our friends, family and customers. It definitely gave us the confidence to write this book.
There’s a real passion for Ullapool throughout the book. How would you describe the sense of community you enjoy there?
We wouldn’t be where we are today without Ullapool. Ullapool provides us with local boats that fish daily for the produce we serve. It also provides us with the trade that we need to keep the Shack afloat. There is such a great sense of community here and we have been so lucky to be supported through thick and thin by the locals. That’s why we wanted Ullapool to be part of the book, it wouldn’t make sense if it wasn’t.
You really pride The Seafood Shack in working closely with local fisherman. What makes the seafood in Ullapool some of the best in your opinion and why is it important to source local produce?
From the get-go, when we started the Shack we always wanted our seafood to be sourced locally and sustainably as much as we possibly could and we’ve been so fortunate to be able to do this. Ullapool’s local waters provide us with some of the most delicious seafood. Its crystal clear waters grow some of the best oysters in the world and the local creel boats work endlessly with supplying us with the most delicious langoustines! We had options when we were first open to do things differently. From a financial view, it would be best to buy in cheaper and perhaps frozen seafood, our profit margins would be much higher. But this was never even an option for us, and it has paid off, people want to pay more to get local and fresh food, which makes us so happy!
The menu must change from day to day depending on the catch that day? Does this ever cause stress, or does it simply add to the excitement of your job?
It does sometimes when there has been bad weather because you want to be able to give people a few options when they visit. Over the years we have learned to think ahead, looking at the weather and guessing what seafood may not be available, then ordering in the seafood we know we will be able to get. It has taken some trial and error. Also, when we have huge, unexpected rushes we can easily sell out of everything on the menu, sometimes there’s just no way of telling. However, on the whole, it keeps us on our toes and makes us think on the spot which is a great thing for a chef, as you can get lazy doing the same things over and over again.
The Seafood Shack sounds like a really unique venture. What’s your favourite thing about running the business and what do you guys do to in the winter months to keep the momentum going?
For us, our favourite thing is the interaction we get, not only with customers but with the staff and our suppliers. Unlike a normal restaurant where the kitchen is hidden away at the back, we are right at the front. We get to talk to the customers from ordering their food right up until they receive it. It’s so lovely being able to have chats with visitors, explaining to them where the food has come from and chatting to our favourite locals each time they visit. We only have a max of five staff in at one time, as the shack is so small, but we all get to work together and have fun, we have a great team and it’s lovely knowing each one of them so well. In the winter we seem to have kept busy, the first few years we took on jobs in the winter, last year we wrote our book and this year we have actually ripped out the entire inside of the Shack. It’s getting a huge makeover before next year so that’s very exciting and keeping us very busy!
What are your favourite recipes in the book?
This is just too hard to say, there are so many recipes, we think they are all yummy! It all depends on what you feel like, for example, the haddock wrap is a known favourite which we have on the shack menu most days, but when you’re feeling like something different the lobster mac and cheese or the Thai mussels are just delicious!
Any plans for the future? Would you ever expand?
We always get asked this, but for us, the Shack works so well the way it is. We will continue to put wee improvements each year, but we want to keep it the way it works best, and it’s doing that right now.
Discover more delicious recipes in The Seafood Shack: Food And Tales From Ullapool (CLICK HERE)