MasterChef runner-up Steve Barringer is on a high.
He and his partner Amy Watson have just taken over The Anchor in Tilsworth and they’re determined to turn it into the best pub in Bedfordshire.
They’re moving in over the shop and are also expecting their first child – a son – any day now.
Steve, 30, says with wry understatement: “There’s a lot going on.”
The former Harlington Upper pupil took part in MasterChef: The Professionals in 2011 and has been inundated with offers ever since.
Recalling his stint on the BBC2 programme, he says: “It was the best time of my life. It was so exciting and I loved every minute. I wasn’t really nervous, apart from the final.”
After he was crowned runner-up, Steve chose to work as head chef at Flitwick Manor where he’d cut his culinary teeth washing pots in the kitchen while taking a course at Barnfield Catering College.
He describes it as his dream job, but says he and Amy, 21, who met at the Manor, have always wanted a place of their own.
He explains: “The Anchor is the only pub in the village and we want to bring it back to being a place the locals are proud of, somewhere with good food, nice beer and wine and a relaxed atmosphere.
“We’re running it together – Amy is front of house and I’m organising the other side.
“We’ve got a little restaurant and a nice bar area where we’re doing nibbles – tapas, snacking trays – somewhere you can go after work.
“I’m tweaking the pub classics so they’re no so heavy. But there’ll still be an element of fine dining on the menu, it would be stupid to change my food completely.”
Steve is the youngest of three – his brother Andrew, 33, is the Hatters’ press officer and Steve cooked for the team in 2012.
His grandmother, Eileen Barron, was his first inspiration. “I used to love her Sunday roasts and especially her Yorkshire pudding,” he remembers. “I always made a terrible mess helping her but she was always really patient.”
His heroes are Michel Roux Jnr, Gordon Ramsay and Daniel Clifford, for whom he cooked in the MasterChef finals and who runs Midsummer House in Cambridge.
Steve says Amy’s a good cook and when they’re at home they enjoy simple fare like curry, pizza and burger.
Their favourite local restaurant is Zeera in Dunstable.
Both sets of parents live nearby and they enjoy eating with them also.
Steve would love to take part in another cookery competition but says he’s too busy right now: “And at the end of the day I’m doing what I love best.”
> The Anchor, Tilsworth. To book call 01525 211404.