Roger Pergl-Wilson, head chef at Cedar Manor Hotel, Windermere

Essential ingredients

The most essential ingredient for me would have to be butter. That may seem really obvious, but it is just one of the many core ingredients that we use in all aspects of cooking.

First kitchen worked in

The first kitchen I worked in was Thornescroft Restaurant near Wolverhampton, when I was just 15 years old. It was a farmhouse style restaurant that had an enormous kitchen garden which supplied most of the fruit and vegetables that the restaurant required.

First dish I prepared

Trying to remember the first dish I prepared is quite hard because I had to wash up for a year before I could even begin to learn cookery! However, I did excel at baking potatoes and cooking chips in an old kettle for my mates when I was about 10.

Signature dish

I have no signature dish. I believe that is quite an old fashioned concept these days. We are always moving on with every menu and trying new things. However, one of my specialities (pictured) is fell-bred Cumbrian rump of lamb with butternut squash, roasted beetroot and dauphinoise potato.

Food philosophy

The most important thing when it comes to food is the quality of ingredients, freshness, seasonality and making sure to not combine too many flavours on the plate at once but to keep it simple.

Biggest kitchen disaster

My biggest kitchen disaster was when I left six large ducks in the oven and forgot about them. Unsurprisingly, they were completely unusable except for making a stock with them.

My favourite chef

My favourite chef is Pierre Koffman. He is a French-born chef who has worked mainly in the UK and is one of a handful of chefs in the United Kingdom to have been awarded the coveted three Michelin stars at his restaurant La Tante Claire in London. I admire the fact he always stayed in his own kitchen and never sought the limelight. Despite this, for me he is the chef’s chef.

My biggest influence

The biggest influence for me has been my wife Alena. She has a very good palate and always encouraged me in my life. Most importantly of all, she was the only one I could depend on to tell me the truth about my food - apart from a few severe chefs along the way!

My favourite meal

My favourite meal would have to be a slow-cooked shoulder of lamb.