In the week that millions tuned in to watch him in the final of the Great British Menu (GBM), Alex Greene was working as a delivery man.
As head chef at Belfast's Michelin-starred EIPIC restaurant, he was single-handedly whipping up lockdown dine-in boxes and dropping them at customers' doors in a van.
The deliveries brought him into contact with his super-fans - an army of largely female customers who had salivated over his dishes (and him) on the BBC show and were more than happy to hand over £50 for a dine-in box and the chance to meet the tall, dark and handsome Co Down chef in the flesh.
"There were some characters. There was one woman who had been getting the box every week and had always come to the door well dressed, with make-up on, friendly and chatty," says the 31-year-old.
But on the Saturday after the GBM final, where Greene got two dishes to the banquet but failed to secure the Champion of Champions title, things were a little different.
"I could see her coming to the door in her dressing gown, holding a cup of tea and crying," he remembers.
"She opened the door sobbing and said, 'Just give me a minute'. I said, 'Are you okay? Is there anything I can get you?' She sank into a chair at the door and said, 'I'm just so upset you didn't win. I got so emotional thinking about you coming here and how you didn't win. I couldn't even get dressed this morning."
Another female customer ordered two weeks of dine-in boxes only to inform him: "I don't even eat the food. I just wanted you to come to my door."
With super-fans, TV success and having been recently singled out by Michelin as a professional to keep an eye on, surely Greene can safely declare himself Northern Ireland's newest celebrity chef?
"I don't know if I want to be a celebrity chef'," he says, wincing a little at the label. "I just want people to know who I am and to have the respect of people I respect in the industry."
Greene worked at Gordon Ramsay's restaurant in Claridge's 14 years ago, but he has mixed feelings about what it means to be famous.
"I never worked with him. I saw him maybe seven times in the time that I was there and he was only in the restaurant and out again," he says.
The chef remembers the set-up in that kitchen as "brutal", but he had a very different experience working under Michael Deane, who he admires for still being hugely hands-on in all seven of his restaurants.
"Michael has been a massive supporter to get me where I am. Without Michael, it wouldn't have been possible," he says.
While he has been approached about setting up his own restaurant, he isn't interested.
"Whatever comes of the GBM, and there is a lot of potential there, I've a lot of avenues to go down and I will do some of them - I'd be silly not to - but EIPIC will always go with me. My loyalty is very much with Michael and EIPIC," Greene tells me.
Working in Deanes on Howard Street aged 16 gave him a hunger for success. Michelin declaring him a must-follow and retaining the coveted star at EIPIC "means everything to me," he says.
"That was a pretty emotional moment. I believed in myself, but not necessarily that I'd ever get there because not many chefs have. You just take a moment to think, 'Well, you've got to where you wanted to get to. Where next?'" he explains.
Unfortunately, next steps are difficult to plan during a pandemic.
"I believe the safest place you can be, outside your own home, is in a restaurant that's being well run," he says.
"I don't understand some of the decisions that are being made. The worst thing is that, in my heart of hearts, I feel it's inevitable that they're going to shut us again.
"When that happens there are a lot of restaurants that won't survive. It's going to be the biggest cull the industry has ever seen."
But he's backing himself. EIPIC is fully booked through to January and, in just a few weeks, Greene is due to open his own shop in Newcastle, a fishmonger's and grocer's stocking locally-sourced produce.
He spends what downtime he has dining in other restaurants or out on his jet-ski, but Sundays are always for family visits home to Dundrum.
He's the oldest and, incredibly, at 6ft 2ins, the shortest of four boys: himself, Andrew and twins David and Paul. Paul tragically died in a farm accident in 2017.
Alex is single and not in any rush to change that (sorry, super-fans).
"I've no time for dating," he says. "I've been in that situation before and made my choice between my career and that. Maybe when I'm 40. I've always said I want to retire when I'm 40, so I've nine years left and a lot I've got to make happen."
He has a full plate and is particularly excited about a forthcoming TV project. He's not allowed to talk about it just yet, but it is something that's sure to seal his status as a celebrity chef.
Despite seemingly being destined for big things, encounters with strangers around Northern Ireland help to keep his feet firmly on the ground.
"A guy in a petrol station tapped me on the back and said, 'I know who you are'. I said, 'Oh yeah, did you see me on TV?' He said, 'No, you pulled out in front of me coming out of that junction back there," Greene tells me.
"My mum was with me and she was mortified. She said, 'You can't just assume everyone knows you from TV'."