A CHEF who worked in the kitchen of a world-famous Michelin star restaurant has taken over a sandwich bar in Petersfield.

Lauren Kates may have worked alongside Heston Blumenthal at the Fat Duck, but don’t expect to see snail porridge on the menu at Chinwags anytime soon.

She’s keeping to the tried-and-tested lunchtime formula at the Folly Market eatery in a move she called a “dream come true”.

Lauren is on familiar turf as she was just 15 when she started working for former owners, Andy and Jo, in 2016. She later became a qualified pastry chef, leading to a stage placement at the Fat Duck and Chewton Glen in the New Forest before Covid prompted a move back to Petersfield.

So when the chance came up to buy Chinwags a month ago, Lauren just couldn’t pass up the chance.

She said: “I want to focus on sandwiches and baguettes and make it a place where you can get lunch, not just for the local people of Petersfield but also to businesses because they’re a big part of our community.

“When Jake (the previous owner) sent me a message saying ‘I’m selling up, are you interested’ I couldn’t pass the opportunity up knowing what’s on offer. 

“Coming back here has felt like coming home as it’s been second nature, even after all these years and I remember where everything is even though I left I 2019.” 

Lauren thanked everyone for their support before cutting the ribbon with town mayor JC Crissy last Friday morning. The latter placed the first order of the day and was pleased to hear that vegan options are available.

Councillor Crissy said: “One of the fun things the town mayor gets to do is to welcome new entrepreneurs to Petersfield.

“In this case it’s not necessarily a new entrepreneur but the fact that you’re having a go and starting the business here and keeping the great tradition of Chinwags going is an important event.”