Loren McBay hasn’t taken much of a maternity leave, and her 12 week old son gurgles away in the background.
Juggling motherhood with press interviews, and of course the small matter of helping to run a thriving coast inspired business is all par for the course – and Loren also has a three-year-old daughter.
She admits that she can’t quite stay away from the nine-five, not there is anything regular about the hours which the job demands.
Early rises to catch the boats coming in, at the gorgeous village of Johnshaven.
And when the majority of your staff members are your family, well there really is no getting away from the job.
Not that Loren would want to, after The Lobster Shop launched towards the end of 2020.
What started out as a reaction to the pandemic, has become a successful business.
The hard working team sold out when they attended Taste of Grampian last year, and they are determined that eager customers will get a taste of the good stuff when the event takes place at P&J Live on June 3.
By good stuff, we of course mean lobster, and the many other fishy delicacies which the team is famed for.
We caught up with Loren and found out why putting local seafood on the menu has never been so important.
Tell us how The Lobster Shop started?
So we were originally the Murray McBain Company, which was mainly focused on exports.
We’d buy from all the small boats, and sometimes sell to the local restaurant trade as well.
When the pandemic hit plus the impact of Brexit, exports were effectively shut down.
People were also starting to try out more local produce, so the timing actually worked really well.
What gave you the idea?
So when people would come into Murray McBain and look at the tanks, they would ask us if we could cook them a lobster because they didn’t know how to do it.
People don’t want to fillet fish these days.
It’s a skill, it’s time consuming and also messy.
You wouldn’t take a cow or a sheep home and then do everything yourself.
We see ourselves as an extension of ready meals, seafood style.
The name gives the game away, but what do you offer?
So since we’ve opened, we’ve focused predominately on crab and lobster.
These are the two things our local fishermen are catching.
We don’t have crayfish or any weird and wonderful things in packets.
We’ve added in langoustines which are creel caught.
We can also source mussels and hand-dived scallops, but we make it clear these are usually from Shetland and the West coast.
Tell us about your famous toastie?
Ah yes, the lobster toastie.
We got the idea because my brother was saying we needed a cheesy lobster dish on the menu.
It was a way of really pushing seafood, and I’ve got to say that the dish is seriously good.
It’s fantastic to be able to have steamed lobster as part of a rather decadent dish.
It consists of lobster, mascarpone, mozzarella, garlic oil, smoked paprika and of course lobster.
Your platters seem popular as well?
We put a lot of thought into our platters.
The lobster is dressed and split, there’s crab claws and steamed langoustines with the vein removed.
We also have different pate, crab and leek quiche, crab cakes, the Katsu crab roll, lobster and chips, and even lobster lasagne.
Our Ruth lobster salad is a family recipe, so it felt even more personal.
Thankfully people seem to love it.
Do you think it’s important to make seafood more mainstream?
Yes, I think it’s great to have the opportunity to try lobster without having to pay £60 in a restaurant.
Seeing children try it is ace; by diversifying it enables people to try it without thinking it’s out of reach.
Not everyone will like it, but we want to promote local lobster.
You can get Canadian lobster etc, but our own lobster really is amazing.
I like it cold and plain, whereas my partner wants it hot and with a sauce.
Everyone has their own taste.
Are you hopeful that the next generation will want to work in the industry?
We’re hoping to get more staff and encourage people to look at the sector as a job perspective.
We have Martha the lobster, who features in our interactive display in the shop.
You can scan QR codes to find out key facts, it’s about giving people the knowledge and making them aware of the industry.
You’re not going to be able to send robots out the sea to do the work.
Generations have gone by working in this sector, it’s about ensuring that it continues.
Encouraging people to try our lobster rolls is just one way of doing that.
What’s the plan for Taste of Grampian?
I feel like last year we were a bit naive, despite going with a fully loaded truck.
My brother had to make two trips back to Johnshaven to get more stock.
So this time round, we’re prepared.
This is still new to us, but Taste of Grampian has provided a fantastic platform.
We came away last year having chatted with so many people, there’s just so much in this area.
And finally, what’s it like to work your family day in, day out?
It has defintely got its days, but I love the fact that we’ve all managed to work together.
It’s quirky and that’s what makes it so enjoyable.
We’ve gone about it by trial and error, but it has also been great fun.
The important bits
For more information about Taste of Grampian, head to www.tasteofgrampian.co.uk
And to find out more about The Lobster Shop, www.thelobster.shop