Ben Queen-Fryer, head chef at Ford Park's Coach House Café and Bistro, Ulverston

Essential ingredients = I really love tomatoes and garlic either used together or separately. There are so many uses for them.

First kitchen worked in = The first kitchen I worked in was when I was 14-years-old at the Millers in Ulverston before it was the Mill. I started as a glass collector and went into the kitchen later where I began pot washing. I was nervous at first and I burnt and cut myself a lot in the early days, but Matt (the head chef) was a really nice guy and taught me a lot in the beginning.

First dish I prepared = The first dish I was allowed to make at the Mill was a chilli for the pool team night! They did eat it all but that might be because they had been drinking all night...!

Signature dish = It is not exactly a signature dish but I really enjoy making pasta and gnocchi. My favourite thing to go with it is beef ragu. It's really simple to make and very enjoyable to eat! I really like Italian food and particularly love food in Sicily.

Food philosophy = I believe in simplicity and staying close to classic combinations.

Biggest kitchen disaster = While working at the Wheat Sheaf Inn, Brigsteer, the electric went and we had to do the whole service by torch light and candles! It was a really hard service with no extraction, and only one small gas oven, but we got all the food out hot. Customers actually had a great time and they all got free drinks and ate by candle light.

My favourite chef = Thomas Keller, of The French Laundry, California. Outside of France Thomas Keller is one of the few chefs to hold three Michelin stars in two separate restaurants. His book The French Laundry is also my favourite. Although the book was printed more than 15 years ago, the food in there has never aged.

My biggest influence = A couple of people have influenced me. The first person would be my mum (Gillian) who made me get out and find a job. Secondly it would be my bosses Steve and Chris Johnson who used to own the Mill and are now at Jeffersons, Barrow. They gave me the best possible start to my working life in this industry.

My favourite meal = This would probably have to be my wife’s mince and onion pie.