Hi, we’re Claire, Paula & Josh.
Claire & Paula became bosom buddies a few years ago when their side hustles kept on colliding and they quickly realised that their clients (Claire is a caterer & Paula is a wedding celebrant) all wanted the same thing on their big day – LOCAL SHELLFISH!
So, with Claire’s culinary skills and Paula’s creely contacts (her late father and partner fished/fish off Arisaig) the Shellfish Shack seed was sewn. But where would we put the shack?
Claire & Paula’s Fairy Godfather and great pal, Josh (not pictured as very camera shy), made everything possible. Josh owns Arisaig Hotel and he made the shack happen when he offered up his adjoining shop.
Arisaig Shellfish Shack opened for business in June 2021.
So, from side hustles to shellfish shack, that’s the story so far!
A bit more about us…
There are lots of personal reasons as to why we decided to start Arisaig Shellfish Shack, so here’s a wee bit about each of our journeys to opening the shack.
Claire Gunner (Chef & Shack Slave) – Claire has been a caterer and chef in the Arisaig area for decades and the majority of events she has catered over the years have been centred around locally landed shellfish.
In 2000, Claire started working at her Godmother’s guesthouse, Garramore House, where the ethos was all about locally sourced produce (again, lots of locally landed fish!) and homegrown herbs and vegetable. After the sale of Garramore House, Claire stepped away from full-time cheffing, but with all that crustacean and culinary experience under her belt she dreamt of one day opening an informal, seafood shack where shellfish lovers could simply grab and go with no-fuss cooked shellfish. The shack seed was planted; however, Claire was too busy to go it alone. ENTER.
Paula Wilkinson (Marketing, Scottish Shellfish Enthusiast & Shack Slave) – Paula is the daughter of the late Peter Wilkinson, a wondrous creel fisherman from Arisaig. Throughout her life she was bewildered and a bit saddened to see her dad’s catch landed in Arisaig before being immediately loaded into huge lorries filled with vivier systems and driven straight to France or Spain. Bigger market, better prices and, most surprisingly, MORE convenience were the reasons her dad, and other fishermen in the area, would sell their catch to the lucky folk in France and Spain.
Fast forward to 2015 and Paula started dating Jamie Baillie, another Arisaig fisherman (obviously some truth in the old adage about women marrying their fathers!). This time round, she couldn’t believe that Arisaig’s amazing shellfish was not only continuing to be exported to France and Spain, but also all the way to China! It really begged the question why us Brits are importing the majority of our shellfish from countries such as Ecuador, Honduras, Indonesia, Nicaragua and Vietnam when we have the BEST shellfish in the whole world landed right here on the west coast of Scotland. Enough was enough. ENTER.
Josh Kingswood (Business brain of the outfit & Paula & Claire’s answer to one of the dragons from Dragon’s Den) – Josh has been the owner of Arisaig Hotel for almost ten years and throughout his ownership he has always strived to use as much locally sourced seafood and produce on the Crofter’s Rest menu as possible. Paula started marketing Arisaig Hotel back in 2016 and, together with Claire, the three of them became firm friends.
When Josh heard Claire and Paula’s enthusiasm about their dreams of opening a shellfish shack in the village, he had a lightning bolt moment! Why don’t they turn his adjoining empty shop into Arisaig Shellfish Shack?! All agreed it was a brilliant idea and each have brought their own strengths, ideas and vision to the Shack.
The Arisaig Shellfish Shack mission is provide shellfish lovers with sustainably caught, humanely dispatched and delicious crustaceans from the waters around Arisaig.