A LAKE District hotel has an exciting new recruit from the best restaurant in the world.

James Cross has joined the team at The Samling, Windermere, from the Danish restaurant Noma – a three-times winner of the global accolade.

Formerly a forager, James has also used his skills at other top-notch kitchens including La Pegola in Rome and Per Se in New York, which both have three Michelin stars, and he has appeared on BBC’s Masterchef.

Now the 32-year-old hopes to make his home in the Lakes.

“This is the area where I want to settle and have a family,” he said. “I used to come here as a child and climb the hills and I love it here. I also think it is the most exciting area in terms of produce in the UK.”

James, originally from Birmingham, now works with head chef Ian Swainson and fellow sous chef Tom Shepherd – a trio which just ‘clicked’.

And he has already started using his foraging knowledge to educate the other two.

“There has been a big interest in foraging at The Samling but people are scared to use wild plants until they have a good understanding of what they are.

“I can bring them to Ian and we talk about them and taste them together. Uncertainty is eliminated because I am there.”

But he added that it would not mean big changes to the menu, only improvements.

“The ingredients I forage will not be used as a focal point of the dishes they are more a punctuation point to advance them. The menu will still driven by Ian.”

General manager Alasdair Elwick said James was just the start of more good things to come.

“It demonstrates our commitment to recruiting the best staff and again strengthens a kitchen team, the food from which is gaining admirers by the day.

“I fully expect more staff of James’ calibre and experience to join this hotel.”