Dominic Clarke, head chef at The Ryebeck, Bowness

Essential ingredients: Shallots, garlic, vinegars and mushrooms.

First kitchen: This was at Est Est Est as a kitchen porter when I was 15 years old. It was a fairly small kitchen doing around 60 to 80 covers a night.

First dish: The first dish I made was calamari served with a lemon wedge and a little side salad. It was simple food but it was fresh and properly seasoned.

Signature dish: Tuna, shitake, kimchi, kombu and cucumber. The tuna is cooked on a hot rock at the table by the guest. I find the interaction with the food and guest to be a little fun. It is served with a garnish plate of shitake parfait, Korean kimchi, pickled sushi ginger, kombu gel and compressed cucumber ribbons.

Food philosophy: My philosophy on food is that it should be delivered to the diner in a way that gets the best from the ingredients, whether that be modern techniques or traditional cooking. I tend to get my inspiration from the seasons so as they change so do the dishes. Garlic, shallot and vinegars go everywhere. I couldn't cook without them. I try to get a good balance to most dishes. Sweet, sour, bitter, umami, sharp, textures, raw and cooked. We take the idea for a dish, develop it, then taste it, tweak it, rework it and see how it ends. It’s quite an organic process.

Biggest disaster: I was cooking for the wedding of the son of one of my old employers. The venue was a mile up the road and I had to transfer 120 ham hock terrine from the kitchen to the marquee. As I set off down the steep drive, another member of staff came up the hill far too quickly. I had to slam on the brakes and 120 slices of terrine went tumbling into each other. Once we arrived at the marquee we had to straighten them out as best we could and build the garnish on top to hide any imperfections. They never knew.

Favourite chef: Raymond Blanc. It just all seems so effortless and care free. It’s anything but. What he has built is fantastic. He has made an amazing contribution to cooking in this country.

Biggest influence: Six months spent in South East Asia.

Favourite meal: The best meal I've had was at Hof Van Cleve, a three Michelin-starred restaurant in Belgium. It was phenomenal from start to finish and every course was superb. I’ve never eaten anywhere that good in this country or any other. And my favourite meal to sit down to at home is probably a selection of meats, cheeses, breads and olives with a nice glass of red and the champion’s league on TV.