Ash Dewar, chef and owner of The Hare and Hounds, Levens

Essential ingredients

It's hard to make anything taste bad when there is cream and butter in it, but time and again it all comes down to seasoning. So perhaps it would be salt and pepper. Where would any chef be without it?

First kitchen worked in

This one! After years of being a general manager of big pubs and bars in London, my wife and I bit the bullet, moved north and found this amazing place. Although daunting when we first started, we had a clear idea that we wanted to make fantastic, fresh pizzas. They are Italian with a British twist - like our Full English Pizza that has been on the menu since day one. Since then I have gradually extended our menu, and now we also make succulent homemade burgers and a variety of classics and specials. All fresh, all tasty, and all homemade.

First dish I prepared

Pizza Margherita. We were really focused on having great dough and tomato sauce. When these basic ingredients for a pizza are right, you don’t need anything else on it.

Signature dish

That would be The Dirty Burger. It's quite a messy one topped with cheese, pancetta, mushroom, an onion ring and a fried egg, but it's a lot of fun to serve and eat.

Food philosophy

Simple, fresh and tasty.

Biggest kitchen disaster

My wife - 'nuff said!

My favourite chef

This is where I should say my wife, but I have found Nathan Outlaw really inspirational. I visited his restaurant in Rock, Cornwall, and got to meet him and his team. I loved his down to earth approach and of course his phenomenal food.

My biggest influence

Our customers. We have people that have come in the pub from day one and have really supported. The people that come in to the pub every day to try our food or just have a good time are the reason we are all in this business.

My favourite meal

Probably any meal I have had in Italy. But most memorable is when we mucked up our travel plans and spent an unexpected night in Genoa. We were recommended this local restaurant in a lively square and I had beautiful traditional Genoese pesto - so simple yet so good. It was rounded off with a glass of homemade limoncello from the owner who spent time talking to us about his food. Delicious.