Chef who trained under Raymond Blanc ‘overwhelmed’ by response as he reopens ‘doomed’ pub in Slapton

Kabby Kholo-Kholo at the Carpenters Arms
Kabby Kholo-Kholo at the Carpenters Arms

A pub which looked destined to be converted into a house has had a reprieve and is set to fully reopen under the leadership of a chef who has trained under Raymond Blanc.

Villagers were dismayed earlier this year when they discovered Slapton’s historic Carpenters Arms could be lost and vowed to fight the move all the way.

The Carpenter's Arms

The Carpenter's Arms

Parish councillor Alan Dugard, of Interguide Group Ltd, owns the Carpenters Arms in Horton Road, and submitted the change of use planning application to Aylesbury Vale District Council, insisting the premises was no longer profitable and wasn’t being supported by the village.

The grade II listed pub, which in the past has been frequented by Frank Bruno, American singer Doña Oxford, Mike Rutherford from Genesis and guitarist Albert Lee, was closed in October last year.

But just as all seemed lost Leighton Buzzard man Kabby Kholo-Kholo and his wife Leane have announced they have taken on the premises – for an initial six months to see if they can make a go of it.

Kabby told the LBO that Mr Dugard had invited him to look at the Carpenter’s Arm in Horton Road last October and he hadn’t been impressed.

“I turned up and thought it was a dump and looked like it had been neglected. I said ‘no thanks, it needs a lot of work doing to it’.

“He called back in mid-February and asked me to look at what he’d done to it. I was pleasantly surprised, it had been refurbished and there were improvements such as sliding doors to allow a separate bar area from dining area.

“I struck a deal to rent it for six months, get it up and running and see how it goes.”

Kabby spent his early life in Lesotho, grew up in Mentmore and has lived in Leighton Buzzard for last eight years.

He got the cooking bug whilst doing an apprenticeship at a pub in Aldbury.

He was inspired to train under the eagle eye of Raymond Blanc, and it was in the impressive vegetable gardens of Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons in Oxfordshire that he learned the value of fresh seasonal produce and saw how Raymond collaborated with his suppliers and brought the excellent and the unusual to his menus.

Most recently he has been chef/licensee of The Crown in Stony Stratford but the potential of the Carpenter’s Arms has tempted back to the area.

Kabby says he will be producing delicious weekly menus based on the availability of seasonal and local produce. He will focus on traditional dishes, family favourites and innovative specials - adding his own unique and contemporary touches.

He opened the bar for drinks on May 11 and the food side of the business will launch on June 1.

He said: “The parish council came in last night and everyone’s really behind it. I’ve been overwhelmed and a bit emotional over the support. I’m going to put my heart and soul into this.

“I want to keep it in the village. I know it’s important to the village. It’s in everyone’s best interest to give it a go. We want to save it. We don’t want a another house, we need a country pub.”