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Masterchef contestant brings gourmet dishes to famed Lisson Grove chippy

PUBLISHED: 14:52 20 August 2010 | UPDATED: 17:05 07 September 2010

Steve Waslin and his staff

Steve Waslin and his staff

A MasterChef contestant is breaking with tradition at the Sea Shell restaurant by offering gourmet dishes as an alternative to its famed fish and chip suppers. Steve Waslin took charge of the Lisson Grove eatery - a favourite celebrity haunt - two and a

A MasterChef contestant is breaking with tradition at the Sea Shell restaurant by offering gourmet dishes as an alternative to its famed fish and chip suppers.

Steve Waslin took charge of the Lisson Grove eatery - a favourite celebrity haunt - two and a half months ago.

The 31-year-old reached the quarter finals of the popular BBC show MasterChef in 2008.

This week, he oversaw the restaurant's reopening after it closed a year ago when a huge blaze almost gutted it.

The relaunch comes with a revamped menu and, along with the usual fish and chips, it includes more adventurous additions such as haloumi cheese with rocket salad and scallops with minted pea puree and lemon-infused oil.

Mr Waslin, who has previously managed upmarket night clubs, said: "We haven't changed the concept of what it's been - a fish and chip restaurant.

"We're just adding other options. We've got a whole salad bar now that wasn't there previously."

Other new dishes which might surprise customers are the fish falafel, jellied eels and roll mops.

The Sea Shell has been an institution in Lisson Grove for almost four decades and was voted one of the 50 top places for fish and chips in Britain.

So how the changes to the menu will go down with the restaurant's loyal local following and more starry customer base, which has included actress Sienna Miller, comedian Ruby Wax and even the late superstar singer Michael Jackson, remains to be seen.

A few complaints are already beginning to surface about the increase in prices since the reopening.

But Mr Waslin defended the rises, saying that the cost of fish has gone up across the world due to declining stocks and, to continue serving the best quality fresh fish, the Sea Shell had to up its charges.

He is also optimistic that the newest culinary offerings will be well received and could even increase business.

"We're trying to appeal to a bigger range of people," he said. "We're not just resting on our laurels of being the Sea Shell."

Meanwhile, Mr Waslin revealed that famous faces are flocking back to the restaurant with pop singer Sophie Ellis-Bextor and actor Cliff Parisi - Minty in EastEnders - popping in for a bite to eat so far.

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