Graham Harrower, executive chef at The Daffodil Hotel and Spa, Grasmere

Essential ingredients: Butter, cream and salt. And although it’s not an ingredient as such, my Thermomix blender is a must when I take on a new job. It’s a great piece of equipment as it blends, cooks, and weighs.

First kitchen worked in: My first job was in what was my local hotel, Farriers Country House Hotel, in Alva, Clackmannanshire, Scotland. I was 16 years old and we were cooking really good gastro pub style food before it became popular. I learned so much there because there were only three chefs in the kitchen so you had to be really on the ball. On my first day in the kitchen I had to cut and plate 200 portions of cheese for a Burns supper which took me nearly four hours! I remember thinking it was the hardest thing I had ever done. It would take me 30 minutes now but I make sure I remember this when training my young aspiring chefs.

Signature dish: I constantly get asked this and still now after 20 years in the kitchen I struggle to pick a favourite because dishes and ingredients are always evolving. At the moment I love cooking spiced monkfish, butternut squash, crispy wild rice and curry.

Food philosophy: My style is simplistic with a lot of emphasis on the quality of the ingredients. I do have a lot of passion for comfort foods and like to use my fine dining training and standards to enhance the casual and family dining experience.

Biggest kitchen disaster: The presentation of a haggis for the First Minister of Scotland. The French head chef burst the haggis so I had to walk around the restaurant with a haggis wrapped in cling film trying to hide it from everyone’s view!

My favourite chef: Thomas Keller. He is an American chef and restaurateur with exceptionally high standards. He is also the only American chef to hold multiple three-star ratings from the Michelin Guide.

My biggest influence: My biggest influence is my mentor for 10 years, Drew Heron, a Scottish chef with meticulous standards. Drew achieved three Rosettes in all of his jobs but has since retired from cooking due to the pressures of maintaining his standards over the years. However, he is an inspiration to me and always will be.

My favourite meal: To start it would have to be smoked salmon from Dunkeld, homemade bread and heaps of butter. Then it would be a good old traditional main of roast beef and Yorkshire puddings – the beef dry-aged with real Yorkshire puds and duck fat potatoes, followed by lemon tart for dessert.