THE head chef at a luxury South Lakeland hotel has delved into the foodie heritage of Cumbria to inspire a unique ‘hyper-local’ menu.

The 40 dishes created by Andy Caulfield, of the Waterhead Boutique Hotel and Dining, were largely influenced by the history surrounding Whitehaven as a major trading port in the 18th Century.

This saw an influx of exotic spices, rum, fruits and molasses, which formed the basis of some Lakeland favourites such as Grasmere gingerbread, Cumberland Rim Nicky and Cumberland sausage.

The 30-year-old chef said: “I did a lot of research and found it really interesting. It was nice to look in-depth at where things came from and why they came into being.”

The restaurant has always used local produce, but wanted to take it to the extreme.

“We wanted to take things to the next level – to stand out,” said Mr Caulfield. “We have always served good British food but we wanted to do something that was a bit different and quirky.”

Some of the tempting choices include sticky toffee duck leg, which combines the flavours of the famous pudding with a juicy confit duck leg, and a trio of Lakeland fell-bred Herdwick lamb. For those with a sweet tooth there is also plenty of mouth-watering options, such as a Kendal Mint Cake flavoured trifle, a Grasmere gingerbread cheesecake, and a Cumberland Rum Nicky – one of the area’s oldest-known desserts dating back to the East Indies trading routes.

The chef said he loved cooking all the meals but that he had favourites when it came to sampling them.

“I love the lamb but my favourite is the sticky toffee duck leg, which has sort of become my signature dish,” he said.

And the contemp-orary artisan producers have not been forgotten, with Hawkshead Relish and award-winning cheeses also playing a part.

Manager Mark Needham said: “This menu really takes local to an extreme so our guests and diners will know they are getting an authentic taste of Cumbria as well as knowing they are helping to support the local economy as we source as many of our ingredients as locally as we can.”