When I walk into Rick Stein's new Sandbanks restaurant the day before it opens its doors to the public, I'm expecting it to be frantic.

But the seafront eaterie, which has been totally transformed since its days as Cafe Shore, has a distinct air of calm.

The man behind the venture is sitting with a glass of ice water, chatting to a small group of people, while the main restaurant area is packed with the lucky people who have been invited for a sneak preview.

There's been a huge buzz across Bournemouth and Poole since it was announced Rick Stein was to open in Sandbanks, but the whole family, who have all been involved in the venture, appear to be rather surprised at the response.

"It was just so wonderful how pleased everyone was we were here," smiles Rick.

"More than it just being a great place for someone to eat, it's good for the local area. We felt very welcome."

Sandbanks first caught Rick's attention more than ten years ago, during the making of a TV series called The Food Lovers' Guide to Great Britain and Ireland, where he travelled around the British Isles looking for great seafood and seafood restaurants.

"I came through here, I must have stayed in the Haven, and just thought 'what a lovely name, Sandbanks, and a lovely part of the South coast'. I had no idea how expensive the property was or anything like that. It just stuck in my mind how lovely Sandbanks was.

"Then just over a year ago I heard that Cafe Shore had burnt down and that it was up for sale. I just thought 'brilliant'. It's such a special place between the beach and Poole harbour at the back.

"I've always had a great affection for Poole Harbour because we get a lot of shellfish in Padstow from Poole Harbour. You can buy seafood fresh these days in London, but it wouldn't taste the same."

The mainstay of the eaterie, which is called simply Rick Stein, will be seafood, but there are also meat and fish dishes available on the menu, all with a focus on high quality, local produce.

"We are trying to develop ties with a fish merchants in Poole, and we will definitely be selling local fish," says Rick, whose empire now includes five restaurants, accommodation, retail outlets and a cookery school.

"South coast fish is special because largely it comes from small boats, so when you can get it, particularly the flat fish on this coast is second to none.

"The sort of things that we will be selling will be south coast plaice, lemon sole, sea bass, Dover sole. I'm very into local produce."

Menus will be printed daily, so some 15 to 20 per cent of the dishes will be changed on a daily basis, according to what produce is available.

The 200-seater restaurant is only Rick's second restaurant outside Cornwall - the first was in Winchester. And the project has been an entire family affair.

"My son Jack's in the kitchen - he runs all our kitchens," explains Rick, who divides his time between Padstow and London.

"My son Ed has done all the design with my ex-wife, Jill and Charlie, my youngest son, has done the wine list for us.

"We're going to take it a bit easy for a while now, because this has been far and away the biggest thing we've ever done - that means cost as well as space.

"But this is an amazing spot - you can smell Poole Harbour, that sea air. It's particularly special to have a restaurant serving fish and seafood right on the water."

Jill Stein, Rick's ex-wife and business partner, worked with the couple's son Ed to come up with a completely new look for the restaurant.

Where Cafe Shore had a dramatic, opulent feel, Rick Stein Sandbanks is light and airy. A coastal chic theme runs throughout with large oil canvases, wall wreathes made of mussel shells and a pebble fish mosaic built into the floor.

Jill, who also works as an interior designer, said: "Because it's coastal, the decor had to reflect that, but we wanted it to be sophisticated as well. I wanted to have a mosaic in the entrance area, I found a lady called Maggy Howarth, who is not local, but she had done one for Purbeck Council.

"That started the idea of it really. You come up with one piece of art and then the whole thing evolves."

Jill and Ed have designed all the restaurant themselves, but she says each has a slightly different look, in keeping with her own style.

"When we decided to start rolling out the new restaurant I said it would be good if we could do Sandbanks. I know Sandbanks, I used to come on holiday here as a child, but it was more about it being a great place.

"It's a fantastic site, we are very lucky to get it really."