Published: 06:00, 16 September 2020
Hundreds of diners have joined a waiting list for a table at a newly-refurbished pub which currently has no confirmed opening date.
An astonishing 1,600 people are ready and waiting to try the food of MasterChef The Professionals semi-finalist Freddie Innes, who will be head chef at The Plough Ivy Hatch near Sevenoaks .
Freddie reached the semi finals of the food competition last year and is looking forward to making a mark with his own designed menu.
The 26-year-old said: "It's going to be more fine-dining food, but lunches will be relaxed and there will be tapas bits, comfort food at lunchtime."
He is now helping new owners Alfie and Katie Johnson refurbish the inside of the pub ready for the new customers.
The trio are hoping to open the pub by the first week of October at the latest.
Speaking of his MasterChef success, Freddie said: "It was a little bit daunting at times but was a really good experience.
"There were so many others who applied for it, the producer told me there were around 3,000 applicants."
The chef said nothing prepares you when you arrive for the first filmed challenge in front of foodie superstars Marcus Wareing and Monica Galetti.
"It is so nerve-racking as you walk in, you walk through the doors and they're all just staring at you," he said.
"There's no chatting, just them saying 'cook that'.
"You watch back and see some people and think, 'Oh, what's he done that for?'"
Freddie was working as a sous-chef at Ockenden Manor in West Sussex before joining the competition and prior to that worked at The Salutation in Sandwich, owned by Gogglebox stars Steph and Dom.
He was furloughed when the coronavirus pandemic hit and used the break to have a bit of downtime before looking for a new opportunity.
Now they are getting closer to opening the pub, Freddie is excited for diners to try his culinary creations.
He said: "There's a nice pork dish with pork belly, pork fillet, some cabbage, and I'm also going to do an individual confit carrot, pork crackling and carrot tops.
"For the vegetarians I've got a goats cheese dish, with texture of the beetroot, but it's quite clever because the beetroot will be done multiple ways - beetroot purée, fermented and pickled, fresh, the tops, the leaves too."
Owners Alfie and Katie took on a pub in Buckingham in 2018 which was struggling and turned it around, and are hoping to do the same with The Plough.
Alfie said: "I'm a bit of a glutton for punishment really, taking on businesses that are failing.
"It's a lot of work, we've done so much to the place - refurbished all throughout, new furniture, new equipment.
"When I came to view it the property was on its knees, it was disgusting, the kind of place where you wipe your feet on the way out.
"It's costing us a small fortune at the minute, probably at the wrong time too, but I'm sure we'll get there."
The sheer number of people signed up to the waiting list in anticipation of the opening has kept him motivated and confident the business will be a success.