Stefan Milanec, head chef at Low Wood Bay Resort Hotel & Marina, Windermere

Essential ingredients

We always look to source our food and ingredients locally and more importantly I would say to any aspiring chefs that seasoning is the key to ensuring you get the best out of your dishes. You can have great ideas for serving up some fabulous meals, but the right seasoning makes all the difference to taste.

First kitchen worked in

My father ran a fish and chip restaurant when I was young so I learned a lot very early on from that. But my first career job was working for the NHS in the kitchen of Birmingham Children’s Hospital back in 1974.

First dish I prepared

A traditional, heart warming chicken fricassee. I will never forget that because I prepared it for my Boy Scouts’ proficiency badge for cookery. It is still one of my favourites today!

Signature dish

I have been cooking for almost 50 years and times, trends and dishes change, so you pick up a lot of favourites and ‘signature’ dishes along the way. But for me there is nothing like a great tasting chilli or a mouthwatering pasta dish with a good sauce.

Food philosophy

I was told at the start of my career that you are only as good as the last meal you prepared, and I think this has always held true for me. It always keeps me on my toes! Dishes must always be up to standard so it is crucial to focus our efforts here and always strive for excellence.

Biggest kitchen disaster

My biggest kitchen disaster was many years ago when I was working in the Holiday Inn in Birmingham. A fire security system malfunctioned and started pouring foam around. We had around 600 guests to feed and all of the kitchen equipment was shut off. Even a half hour delay waiting for an engineer to fix it caused quite a headache. We salvaged the situation with some complementary drinks!

My favourite chef

Without a doubt my favourite chef is the Swiss chef Anton Mosimann, who was Maitre Chef des Cuisines at the Dorchester Hotel in the 70s and 80s. In my eyes he is the father of modern food as we know it today and I take a lot of inspiration from him.

My biggest influence

I hope it will always be my customers. As tastes and times change, it is important to listen to them and apply that feedback to my work whenever I can.

My favourite meal

If I am eating out, nothing beats a really good roast and I love a rib of beef with Yorkshire puddings and all the usual trimmings.