Ian Thompson, head chef and general manager at The Grand at Grasmere

Essential Ingredients

The freshest produce possible, sourced locally and a great team.

First Kitchen worked in

The first kitchen I worked in was Highfield House in Blawith. I started working there during the holidays and at weekends before I left school and then for three years after finishing at Kendal College. From there I took a position at The Swan Hotel, Grasmere, working for the Trusthouse Forte group as a commis chef. I worked hard there to learn as much as possible from everybody I could.

First dish I prepared

The first dish I prepared was a steak pie with a rich gravy and short crust pastry at The Swan Hotel. Being entrusted to get the mix right after being shown several times was a feeling of achievement and though it was a simple thing, when you are young and learning it means a lot. I still make steak pie now but it's slightly different. I use local Hawkshead Brewery beer and a cobbler top.

Signature dish

I haven't exactly got a signature dish as I like preparing most dishes, but I do enjoy pastry and puddings. Our chocolate Guinness cake and creme fraiche, or classic sticky toffee is always very popular.

Food Philosophy

My philosophy is that it has to look appetising and be good enough to eat! Sometimes simple is more.

Biggest Kitchen Disaster

My biggest disaster was when a shoulder of pork went in to slow roast at 2pm and I only noticed the oven had gone off when I returned to work at 5pm. A quick decision was made to cut it into four pieces and a combi oven was the saviour. It was fine - the pork was perfect as was the crackling.

My favourite chef

Although I can happily watch any food channel with any chef, they all have very different styles and methods of cooking which I like. I always loved reading and watching Raymond Blanc while I was training at Kendal College. With every season he changed ingredients and used what was available. He is so passionate about food that sometimes the simplest of dishes are created by just letting the ingredients do the work. Rick Stein has a similar ethos - using simple ingredients to maximise the flavours.

My biggest influence

This would probably be during my first proper kitchen job at The Swan Hotel. Head chef Peter Starauschek taught me an awful lot and instilled the work ethos I have today.

My favourite meal

Difficult, there are so many, Roast Rib of Beef with all the trimmings, then something simple - Cheese, Cured Meats, homemade Pate, homemade Chutneys and a nice chilled glass of Cloudy Bay.