Depending on who you ask, fish is notoriously difficult to cook well. From overcooking delicate prawns to drying out your salmon, or just not knowing the best way to prepare a stunning piece of cod, cooking seafood can demand real skill and a keen sense of timing.

So it can be surprising to see a seafood truck serving up restaurant quality dishes with just three cooking sections and two pairs of hands. If you ask Julia Hemingway, of Julia's Lobster Truck in West Co. Clare, a nifty little food truck is the ideal way to dish up some fish.

Nestled into the scenic crags of West Clare, home to the Burren, the Doolin caves and more, Julia's turquoise food truck is a destination in its own right.

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Specialising in fresh seafood cooked to perfection, from creamy chowder to her highly sought after lobster rolls, in the five years the food truck has been running it's become one of the foodie hot spots on the west coast.

Julia is just one of the bold chefs facing off in The Battle of the Food Trucks, a new cookery show coming to RTÉ Player, which follows along as six food truck chefs from across Ireland go head-to-head to be crowned Ireland's finest food truck, battling it out through various challenges and themes.

Julia herself has forged a fascinating trail through the food industry. Starting off at Leith's Cookery School in London, followed by restaurant jobs including at the celebrated French House in Soho, London, Julia finally moved to Dublin to work as a private chef to Ronnie Wood of The Rolling Stones.

"I've been cooking all my life", she says. "When my children were older and I had more space to breathe, I knew that I would open something myself. So I decided on the food truck.

Julia Hemingway

"It was quite new back then, five years ago there weren't many here. I just thought it was a really fantastic way to get a kitchen up and running and feed people, and it was affordable."

Irish seafood is at the centre of the truck in every way, as Julia wanted to focus on showcasing just how spectacular the produce was. "I wanted to just cook simply and deliciously and fresh and cook in front of customers. So everything I do cooked to order."

In this way, a food truck is ideal as customers can watch as the food is prepared right before them: "They know that it's fresh, that they can see what I'm doing in front of their eyes. So I felt it was a lovely way to do seafood and fish because it should be cooked to order and it should be as fresh as possible."

Cooking in a food truck isn't without its challenges though, as all resources are pushed to the limit to get orders out. The minute truck has just a grill, a fryer and a hob on which all the meals are cooked. For a chef like Julia, though, who came of age in bustling professional kitchens, the truck runs like a well oiled machine.

"I can do the sections on my own, and I have someone helping me, but only one person now so it's very much staff dependent so I don't want to put too many things on the menu if there's only two of us.

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"You really do have to adapt. We have to keep the menu really simple and short. We have to be brave and cut things from the menu sometimes that everyone loves", she added.

The changing in restrictions has led to new challenges for Julia, specifically when it comes to those all-important lobster rolls that have customers clambering over themselves. "I have to adapt because since all the restaurants have opened the availability of lobsters has gone down. The demand has gone up. I was getting so much lobster and now I can't so I'm having to change that."

A food truck like this is enough to attract visitors to more remote parts of the country, as hungry travellers drive hours just to sample the goods. In this way, the trucks become destinations in themselves, the anchor for long weekends exploring different counties.

At Julia's spot, some customers drop by weekly for fish and chips, while others will make the trek for the celebrated lobster or chowder. Last July and August saw many staycationers come by, she says, but otherwise it's populated by lucky locals.

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The pandemic has changed how people think about their food, she says, and especially how they indulge in more luxurious meals. "People are willing into travel and especially since the pandemic, people want to treat themselves. I mean, a few years ago I was selling all fish and chips and hardly any lobster."

As for her stint on The Battle of the Food Trucks, Julia was just chuffed to be out and about. "I really enjoyed it. We had so much fun, it was so nice to do something. But it was really nice to meet the crew who we really got on with and James Patrice, he's great.

"It was like being at a really nice festival!"

7UP Free are proud partners of the Battle of the Food Trucks exclusively on RTÉ Player. Friends, food and 7UP Free. Clearly Great Moments. Clearly 7UP Free.

Don't forget to join host James Patrice each week as things heat up in the battle to crown Ireland's best food truck. Watch it here now on RTÉ Player.