Victoria Waterman, head chef at The Catch café bar & restaurant, Kendal

Essential ingredients: Coffee! At The Catch we serve English Lakes Coffee which I love as it has a real zing to it and at home at the moment I am drinking a Farrer’s blend from Ethiopia. Another essential is stock as it's the backbone of a dish. I always make my own and feel that if you start right the dish will always end right. Local produce is a also must and here in the lakes we are blessed with an abundance from salt marsh lamb to the potted shrimps of the Solway Firth to Hawkshead Relish.

First kitchen worked in: I have been working in kitchens since I was 22, but feel that The Castle Green Hotel, Kendal. was my first step into a real kitchen. It there where I fell in love with food and cooking. I started as a commis and loved working in pastry which inspired me to travel to Switzerland and learn the craft of confectionary.

First dish prepared: Monkfish wrapped in Parma ham was my fist dish under the watchful eye of head chef Mark Davis at the Castle Green. I don’t prepare it often anymore as monkfish stocks are in decline but if I can get British sustainable monkfish then I jump at the chance.

Signature dish: Ever changing trends and new ingredients make it impossible to have a favourite dish but fish and seafood are my passion. I am happiest when playing alchemist with fish curing and I have just put beetroot-cured salmon on the menu. Windermere trout is also fabulous.

Food philosophy: Everything in moderation.

My favourite chef: Mark Davis gave me a copy of Anthony Bourdian’s book Kitchen Confidential when I first started talking about taking up cheffing as a career. Being a chef is a lot of sweat, blood, tears and failures but when you succeed and the plate comes together there is nothing better.

My biggest influence: It has to be my partner who is the sous chef at the Wheatsheaf, in Brigsteer. We work through menu ideas together and a little competitiveness makes us both strive to be better. We are similar in our approach to our work ethic in the kitchen but my partner loves molecular gastronomy whereas I let the food and flavours speak for themselves.

My favourite dish: Depends on the season but samphire is great at the moment as are British strawberries. Aside from all the amazing ingredients I work with, after a long day in the kitchen nothing beats a big mug of tea and toast with Marmite!