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East Anglia Future 50

Seafood hut opens near Felixstowe pier

PUBLISHED: 16:30 10 May 2019 | UPDATED: 16:43 10 May 2019

Eli Froggatt has opened the Old Fishing Hut seafood stall near Felixstowe Pier. Picture: Neil Didsbury

Eli Froggatt has opened the Old Fishing Hut seafood stall near Felixstowe Pier. Picture: Neil Didsbury

Archant

Crab, cockles, whelks, prawns and oysters are on the takeaway menu at revamped fishing hut which is bringing traditional seafood back to the seafront.

Eli Froggatt's expertise with seafood and experience as a chef has allowed her to create some beautiful, fresh seafood alternatives to fish and chips on Felixstowe seafront. Picture: Neil DidsburyEli Froggatt's expertise with seafood and experience as a chef has allowed her to create some beautiful, fresh seafood alternatives to fish and chips on Felixstowe seafront. Picture: Neil Didsbury

There's a certain romanticism around eating by the sea. Hot salted chips snatched from a rustling paper bag taste far better on the beach (just watch out for the seagulls). And walking through a town centre with an ice cream cone is never as satisfying as devouring it with a breeze chasing through your hair.

One foodie eating experience that's harder to find these days in coastal resorts is fresh seafood and shellfish. There would have been a time when the east coast bustled with the bounty of the waters, and today, although some remain, they are few and far between.

Which is why a seafood lover in Felixstowe has leapt into a brand new business. Quite simply, says Eli Froggatt, she wants to make us fall in love all over again with the treasures our seas have to offer.

Eli, a patisserie chef, who formerly owned the popular eatery Bonnet in the town, worked with the fishermen at Springtide in Old Felixstowe while recovering from illness. When the owner was forced due to personal circumstances to sell The Old Fishing Hut Winch no 1, bang on the seafront near the pier, she was given first refusal.

Eli Froggatt has opened the Old Fishing Hut seafood stall near Felixstowe Pier. Picture: Neil DidsburyEli Froggatt has opened the Old Fishing Hut seafood stall near Felixstowe Pier. Picture: Neil Didsbury

"I thought, why not? There's nothing like this on the beach apart from the market on a Sunday. It seemed like a great opportunity," she says.

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The hut has been on the beach since 1920, known as The Old Fisherman's Hut. Eli gave it a bit of TLC, a lick of paint, a little rebrand, and opened over Easter, selling healthy, fresh seafood, while being environmentally conscious. "I really want to keep the plastic down so we only have wooden forks and wooden picks and paper bags. Also I don't sell water in plastic bottles - there's a free drinking water tap in the car park nearby.

"The main thing I concentrate on here is a cooked counter. We can't have a smokehouse here on the beach, so we get smoked salmon from Old Felixstowe, then there's Cromer crab, whole smoked mackerel from Colchester, Leigh On Sea cockles and Maldon oysters, peeled prawns, roll mops and crayfish tails. I'm even making my own smoked salmon pate and smoked mackerel pate."

Seafood in the sunshine on Felixstowe seafront thanks to Eli Froggatt's new business The Old Fishing Hut. Picture: Neil DidsburySeafood in the sunshine on Felixstowe seafront thanks to Eli Froggatt's new business The Old Fishing Hut. Picture: Neil Didsbury

Eli says she's been inundated by requests for crab sandwiches, so there are plans afoot for these, and to start making up hampers, filled with anything from roasted salmon with honey and mustard, to lobster, oysters and other healthy options. All you need to bring is a loaf of bread, some pickles and a bottle of wine for a perfect day out on the beach.

Encouraging new customers (especially children) to get over a fear of fish and shellfish is a passion for Eli who always has free samples at the hut. "As soon as you say sea snail, which is a whelk, people don't want to eat them. I've been really happy though because people are coming over and having a try. A lot of them are buying oysters for the first time. I've also got cooked and live lobsters and they get everyone interested."

The hut is open from 10am to 3pm every day (unless it's blowing a gale) with longer opening hours on high days and holidays.

"Everyone I've spoken to is thrilled to have this on the beach," Eli smiles. "I'm encouraged by all the positivity and I'm so glad to be here. The pier looks fabulous now and the gardens look beautiful. Felixstowe is on the up."

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