Words Natalie Millar-Partridge
Photographs Michael Poole
I love living and working by the sea, there is something about the fresh sea air that feels good for the soul. My café, The Blue Hut, is right on the beach in Teignmouth, South Devon, with views across the River Teign towards Dartmoor. I can watch the fisherman, rowers and huge ships, which definitely beats your average kitchen view. I also get to chat to customers as I cook for them – a good work life balance is such a difficult thing to achieve when you’re a chef, though I feel I’m getting closer.
I have always lived by the coast and have fond memories of my parents taking us to the beaches around Devon and Cornwall. My family moved to Devon from Bodmin when I was five, 32 years on, and I’m still here. I didn’t always dream of being a chef, it evolved organically; after five years working at Ode restaurant in Shaldon and a long trip to South East Asia, the idea for a food truck was born.
I set up The Blue Hut in May 2017, my vision was to offer something a bit different to beachgoers, locals and tourists, from great coffee, cold drinks, and ice creams to my own style of street food inspired by my world travels and work as a chef. I devised a small menu of homemade dishes that change with the seasons, including our ever-popular Cajun chicken Caesar wrap, wild Teign Valley venison burger served with onion marmalade or chilli jam, battered haddock, local freshly caught mackerel, halloumi fries, and sand eels, landed by local fisherman, metres in front of the hut.
My ethos lies in the detail, creating simple, unique food with care and attention and treating every customer as the most important, this is what sets us apart from other beach kiosks.
We source all our meat locally – Creedy Carver for poultry and our Fallow deer is supplied by a local game-keeper who’s been stalking in the Teign Valley for over 40 years. Fish and seafood is from Brixham market or caught straight from the fishermen on the Back Beach at Teignmouth. Everything is served using as little, compostable and recyclable packaging as possible. We also have a beach litter-clearing station to help keep our beautiful sands clean.
After a tough day in the kitchen, I can walk 20 yards for a dip in the sea – it’s truly incredible. On days off, I enjoy kayaking, swimming, boating and fishing. I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else.