Patricia Bullen, chef at Lancrigg Vegetarian Country House Hotel, Grasmere, under head chef Mike Whittington.

Essential ingredients = If I had to take two ingredients onto a desert island with me I would take lemon and brown rice miso. I love using lemon as I find the sourness brings a lightness and freshness to dishes and adding brown rice miso gives a real depth of flavour and, like all fermented foods, it is incredibly nutritious.

First kitchen worked in = It was in an Italian restaurant when I was 14 where I was paid £2 an hour to do basic things like chopping up fruit.

First dish I prepared = This was probably the fruit salad in the Italian kitchen but I used to make cakes with my mum at home. The best bit was licking the bowl!

Signature dish = This would be my red onion, thyme and tomato cashew nut cream tart which we're serving in the restaurant. It is a recipe inspired by raw food principles of using soaked and blended cashew nuts as a dairy free base for desserts. And for dessert it would have to be my chocolate avocado mousse, sweetened with dates.

Food philosophy = I believe passionately in conscious cooking and am a vegetarian and vegan health food chef. All food has energetic properties and we can use fresh, seasonal wholefoods to heal and nourish ourselves. I've trained in macrobiotics which is a system of using food to prevent and help cure illnesses and ailments which I have done as a private chef. I also believe that we can enjoy an abundance of good food without using meat. It is great working at Lancrigg where I can bring my experience to an environment that shares the same philosophy of fresh and honest vegetarian cooking. When I first started I had to learn more than 60 new recipes.

Biggest kitchen disaster = I was working as a chef in London for six years and on my first ever trial shift I borrowed the head chef’s white jacket. I was very nervous and to my horror I nicked myself on a knife. I put a blue plaster on the cut and hoped he wouldn't see it. He later asked me if I had cut myself and I wasn't sure how he knew – and he said: “There is blood on my jacket.” Thankfully, I still got the job!

My favourite chef = I have worked with several Buddhist chefs who work in functional silence – they are incredibly quick and efficient while maintaining complete calm. They have very clean and organised kitchens and cook using intuition rather than recipes.

My biggest influence = My biggest influence is plant based food! I love cooking, eating and reading about food. I love eating out, experimenting with food, making up recipes and I look forward to all my meals.

My favourite meal = This depends on the season and my mood but at the moment it might include a roasted butternut squash stuffed with parched peas in a miso gravy with millet and steamed kale and Gomasio – a sesame and salt condiment.