Nick Martin, head chef at Waterhead Boutique Hotel & Dining near Ambleside

Essential ingredients = I am a big fan of using vanilla in my cooking which may come as something of a surprise to most people. Other than that, attention to detail and the quality of produce, good meat and seafoods, fresh vegetables and herbs is central to every dish we prepare here.

First kitchen worked in = The first kitchen I worked in was at the Royal Oak Hotel, in Keswick.

First dish I prepared = Now that takes me back. The first dish I remember being most proud of was a chicken liver parfait with onion confit. In my very early days when I was still learning the trade, I spent about two weeks preparing my first Hollandaise sauce until I finally got it right!

Signature dish = Without a doubt, one of my favourites is a slow cooked lamb shoulder, roasted loin, crisp neck, together with classic dauphinoise potatoes, butternut puree and braised greens. And I am just as happy to eat this as to prepare it!

Food philosophy = Like many of today’s most prominent chefs, I am a big fan of keeping the preparation of my dishes relatively simple. To my mind, using the freshest possible ingredients is the key to real success and happy diners. I would also say to any budding chef that they should always be prepared to learn and pick up new skills and dishes – and then to spend time honing them to perfection.

Biggest kitchen disaster = I have to admit that many moons ago there was an occasion where I forgot about the lemon tarts I had in the oven in preparation for a wedding. Thankfully and very luckily for me – and the bride and groom - the event wasn’t until the next day so I had the chance to quickly make amends and prepare a fresh batch.

My favourite chef = There are so many inspirational people to choose from who have had an influence on how I like to approach my own work: Raymond Blanc, Theo Randall, Shaun Rankin, Jose Pizaro, Anthony Bourdain to name a few, but there are many others too.

My biggest influence = Keith Floyd taught me to just go on stage and keep talking and cooking until they have to literally drag you off. Jean Christophe Novelli boosted my confidence, telling me to use talent and character to show everyone who you are and what you have to offer.

My favourite meal = Mediterranean fare is fantastic, so too is the traditional British roast with all the trimmings. Best of all is to cook it and eat it together with my family.