A CHEF who has cooked for royalty and heads of state, and worked for the legendary culinary Roux family, has taken the helm at a Lyth Valley inn.

The Punch Bowl at Crosthwaite has welcomed 34-year-old Alex Beard into its kitchen. Richard Rose, owner of the five-star, two AA rosette restaurant with rooms, said he was "thrilled to have attracted someone of Alex’s talent and experience".

Alex, who studied at Lancaster University, says he is putting down roots in the Lake District with wife Helen after travelling the world and cooking in places like Italy, India and Asia.

He spent five years at the celebrated, three Michelin-starred Waterside Inn at Bray, run by Alain Roux - latterly as senior sous chef for two years. During three years as a private chef, Alex continued to work on projects for the Roux family, and his classically French trained background influences his cooking style, as well as many modern techniques.

His new à la carte menu now being served at the Punch Bowl includes dishes such as Pan-Fried Scallops with Carrot & Lime Puree, Satay Sauce, Compressed Pineapple and Coconut Foam; and Dry-Aged Creedy Carver Duck with Confit Leg Meat, Stuffed Cabbage Ball, Mirk Howe Damson Puree and Damson Duck Jus.

A chef’s seven-course tasting menu is also available for advance bookings.

Alex, who hails from Shropshire, said he was drawn to the Punch Bowl because he felt it had the same warmth of atmosphere that the Roux family are renowned for.

"Richard [Rose, Punch Bowl owner] was the main reason I came here," he said. "The Punch Bowl means everything to him and it’s his passion that gives the place such a great feel for both staff and customers.

"We’ve got the same ideas about how to develop things and he doesn’t mind paying for quality products, which is a great position for a chef to be in because we’re not scrimping on anything.

“Richard has put a lot of trust in me to give me my first head chef role and I’m going to repay that trust and drive the business forward. That means being recognised for our great food, great service, great wine and being an outstanding all-round destination inn.”

The Punch Bowl is Cumbria’s Dining Pub of the Year in the 2020 Good Pub Guide.