Chris O'Callaghan, head chef at Linthwaite House Hotel, Windermere

Essential ingredients

At Linthwaite the essential kitchen ingredients are fresh, local game and seasonal English vegetables. We get our local game from John at Cartmel Valley who provide top quality products and we often buy our meat from them in its rawest state. The seasonal vegetables come from English supplies.

First kitchen worked in

The first kitchen I worked in was at Eastwell Manor, in Ashford, under head chef Neil Wiggins. I learnt a great deal from Neil. He was passionate about using English and French produce in his cooking and he introduced me to a lot of European produce.

First dish I prepared

At Eastwell Manor the first dish Neil Wiggins taught me to prepare was a lobster and leek terrine. I found the dish challenging at the time, but the end result was visually impressive. This was around 15 years ago and I decided to add it to our menu at Linthwaite 18 months ago.

Signature dish

I would rather be known for a particular style of cooking. I like to produce clean, honest food - there are no gimmicks or smoke here. The food is relatively down to earth with the emphasis on taste.

Food philosophy

I would have to say my philosophy is that less is more. I want great dishes that the team can deliver day in, day out - tidy plates, with food that is true to its origins.

Biggest kitchen disaster

I won’t mention the name but this happened while I was once working at a high profile hotel’s Michelin-starred restaurant. There was a wedding and I was in charge of the sauce section. We were serving lamb loin and half way through serving, the chef changed the portion size so we ran out! Half the guests ended up having to eat chicken.

My favourite chef

My favourite chef is Philip Howard at The Square in London. That is my favourite restaurant in the UK and I try to visit every time I’m in the capital. He has been a massive influence. I also really admire Marcus Wareing and consider him to be one of the greats.

My biggest influence

My biggest influence as a chef is to eat in other restaurants. It's a great way to get inspiration and to understand what other chefs are doing. I go to restaurants with similar accolades or ambitions as Linthwaite. I also spend a lot of time reading and have a library of cook books at home. I also use the internet to find out what's been done before and where.

My favourite meal

I don’t have a favourite meal although I would happily have my last meal at The Square. To me a great meal is about a happy experience you share with the people you care about. The food is the catalyst - it's something that brings you together and that you can all enjoy.