HUNDREDS of sea food lovers packed out the inaugural Swanage Fish Festival over the weekend.

More than 20 local eateries took part in the event, and Prince Albert Gardens were transformed by an array of produce stalls, stands and cooking demonstrations.

Among the professional chefs showing off their knife skills was Britain’s Best Dish television judge Ed Baines, who took time out from the kitchen at his Randal & Aubin seafood restaurant in Soho, London, to travel to the Purbeck coast.

“I’m thrilled to be part of the Swanage Fish Festival,” he said. “I regularly visit Swanage and like to use local produce so what better location than to cook fish than overlooking the bay.”

One of the organisers, Emma Barker, told the Daily Echo: “We’ve had a great turnout. Things have been going really well. It was heaving. Ed Baines’ demonstration went down really well.

“People have been coming and going all day. The numbers have been great.”

There were also fishing trips, crabbing competitions, foraging master classes, sea shanties and plenty of sea food on offer throughout the weekend.

Other local culinary names supporting the festival included James Golding from The Pig on the Beach, Giuseppe Sinaguglia from Olive Tree Cookery School and forager Dan Scott.

Visitor Andrew Jacobsen, at the festival with his young family, said: “I’ve just had some lovely sea bass.

“I cannot believe this is the first time they’ve had a seafood festival here. I definitely recommend it. Well worth a visit.”

Stalls included a champagne and oyster bar, Purbeck Ice Cream and the RNLI refreshment tent.

It wasn’t just Swanage pubs and restaurants taking part - Corfe’s Castle Inn put on a whelk cooking demonstration, while Kingston’s Scott Arms spiced things up with their Jerk Lobster and Prawns.

A spokesman said: “Swanage Fish Festival was about celebrating all things ‘fishy’ with a new pilot festival that featured food, fishing and fun.

“There were fish, cockles, mussels, scallops, seafood paella, oysters, cocktails and champagne, plus fishy and traditional sea events to amuse the whole family.”