Simon Bennett, co-owner of Augill Castle. Mr Bennett has run the country house hotel near Kirkby Stephen for 17 years.

Essential ingredients = Anything from the four counties which surround us as we have always majored on sourcing locally. With so much amazing produce in the North of England, why venture any further?

First kitchen worked in = The kitchens of the hospitality school at Bournemouth University. After that, our restaurant in Mayfair. The Patio on Curzon Street was an ailing Italian trattoria and we turned it around by introducing a fresh British menu concentrating on simple, unfussy food.

First dish I prepared = An omelette. Our chef tutor told us that no self respecting cook could call themselves a chef until they could turn out a perfect omelette.

Signature dish = Lemon tart. Made to a recipe given to us by friends who ran a chamber d’hôte and cookery school in South West France. It is bursting with lemons unlike far too many lemon tarts that just taste of sugar.

Food philosophy = Local is best. This autumn we are re launching our menu and calling in our Four Counties menu. The castle sits right on the border of Cumbria, North Yorkshire, Durham and Lancashire. We’ve always tried to source as much as we can locally and those four counties provide us with pretty much everything we need. Simple is best too. If you start with the best ingredients there is no need to mess around with them until they are almost unrecognisable. What’s with all this deconstructed stuff? It’s nonsense!

Biggest kitchen disaster = Lemon tart! I once overcooked a batch of three and they separated. I had a hissy fit and threw them in the bin. I think it was a forerunner of the Great British Bake Off baked Alaska scandal!

My favourite chef = My wife Wendy who is my partner in crime. She has more ideas than me, although I'm probably more technically experienced. As well as inspiring me she inspires dozens of youngsters each year at our Little Augill Cooks children’s cookery school and at local primary schools. A few years ago I went to a cookery school with Rosemary Shrager at Swinton Park in Yorkshire. She was an inspiration. She showed how much I already knew but had forgotten.

My biggest influence = We both love to go out to eat whenever we can and we never come away from a restaurant without an idea. We both love Nick Nairn.

My favourite meal = If I’m staying in a hotel my favourite meal is breakfast because I invariably skip it normally.

The most memorable meal I have ever eaten is probably at the restaurant at Hotel Casamar in Llafranc on the Costa Brava. It has a wonderful terrace overlooking the beach and the food is sublime.