Taste Buds magazine talks to Josh Martin from The Crab Shack in Teignmouth
Josh Martin is the Head Chef at The Crab Shack restaurant in Teignmouth. Together with the crew that mans the Crab Shack’s own fishing boats, he serves up fresh, local seafood. With years of experience as a chef, Josh creates quality dishes made from sustainably sourced local ingredients.
Have you always wanted to be a chef?
Yes. From an early age the only thing that really interested me was food: eating it, cooking it, everything about it. As a child my Saturday mornings were spent with my Nan baking cookies, bread and cakes.
What is your background and how did you come to work at The Crab Shack?
I began my career in the Belfry in Sutton Coldfield, where I trained with a brigade of 50 chefs. I was then drawn to Devon and worked in some fantastic kitchens including the Osborne. In 2002, I left there and became Head Chef at the Sea Trout in Staverton. In 2006, I headed up a small team at the Owl and Pussycat in Teignmouth. After deciding to settle here, my friends Rob and Amanda Simmonds asked me to help them at The Crab Shack.
How would you describe your style?
I cook simply, using three or four components in a dish. I prefer to be ‘in the rear with the gear’ and always want the food to be the star of the show.
What kind of food do you serve at The Crab Shack?
We are predominantly a fresh fish and shellfish restaurant but there is some local meat on the menu. Our food is elegant and fitting with the restaurant’s relaxed beach setting.
What would you say is your signature dish?
It has to be the fruits de mer. The platters are delicious and as a chef, it’s a real privilege to be able to use such fine ingredients. Our crab pâté isn’t bad either, and during the season we serve a cracking spider crab thermidore.
What are your favourite local ingredients?
My favourites are wild garlic in the spring; samphire, spider crab and mackerel in the summer; chanterelles, ceps, winkles and dover sole in the autumn, and cod in the winter.
The Crab Shack has owned fishing boats for over 30 years. What do you catch?
We catch primarily crab and lobster on the boats; both are caught mid-channel and owing to strong currents and tidal conditions are much meatier than their local counterparts. Cooking with such fantastic produce means I need do very little to enhance the ingredients. In the whole of my career, this is the best produce I’ve worked with – it’s inspiring.
Where are your favourite places to eat out in Devon and why?
On the rare occasions I’m out of the kitchen, I love to eat simple but great food. The Church House Inn in Stokeinteignhead has a welcoming atmosphere and fantastic food. I also enjoy eating at the Owl and Pussycat.
Who is your Devon food hero and why?
I have close friends within the local fishing community and complete respect for their commitment and bravery. As far as I am concerned, they are Devon’s unsung food heroes, sometimes facing life-threatening conditions to bring the best catch home.
Any tips for budding chefs?
Apply to the highest standard of place possible to give you the best training and guidance. You will gain invaluable experience and skills that will form the basis of your career. Only apply if your dedication to your career outweighs your dedication to your social life!
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