Conor Toomey, head chef at Storrs Hall Hotel, Windermere.

Essential ingredients = My essential ingredients are beetroot and mushrooms because they are both just fantastic ingredients. There is such a vast array of mushrooms which together can provide and add a fantastic contrast of flavours, earthy richness and textures to dishes. Similarly, beetroot is a favourite for its variety vibrancy in colour and flavours. A recent dish I created was slow cooked Jacob's ladder of beef which featured varied colours including golden beets roasted along with a puree, and roasted mini reds also roasted.

First kitchen worked in = The Singing Frog in South Africa where I am from. I moved over to the UK from South Africa and have now been here in the UK for 10 years.

First dish I prepared = It is a struggle to remember the first dish I made but it would have been something like spaghetti Bolognese at only eight years old back in South Africa under the watchful eye of my mother.

Signature dish = I actually do not have a signature dish. My menus and dishes are constantly evolving so each month a new dish arises and becomes my signature. Most recently it was my 55-day-aged Huntsman Pork dish which has certainly been a firm favourite.

Food philosophy = My philosophy is to serve the freshest of ingredients, at the highest of quality, featuring seasonal where possible and keeping dishes innovative and exciting.

Biggest kitchen disaster = The biggest disaster I experiences was running of of mackerel during a function many years ago and having to scoot out to the local supermarket for additional supplies. Not ideal!

My favourite chef = I have a few favourites which include Claude Bosi, Sat Bains, Daniel Clifford and Michael Wignall. All of these chefs have a flair and quality along with their own unique styles but as a collaboration for me, I see their style and delivery as a contrast between modern interpretations with classical influences plus great talent.

My biggest influence = Michael Wignall, without whom I probably would not be where I am today. I worked under Michael at Michael Wignall at The Latymer at Pennyhill Park, Surrey. I started as a junior member of the team and earned my stripes working up to sous chef. A very talented man with unique ideas working with only the very best quality of ingredients, Michael also taught me a great deal about kitchen management overall - not just the flair on the plate. Without this opportunity I know I would not have achieved what I have now, for which I'm very grateful for.

My favourite meal = My favourite meal has to be absolutely anything that has been cooked by someone else!