PAUL Leonard, head chef at the Devonshire Arms, is at home in the garden as much as he is in the kitchen.

His passion for cooking is matched by his enthusiasm for home-grown produce - and it doesn't have far to travel to the plate at the Bolton Abbey hotel's three AA rosette Burlington Restaurant.

This autumn Paul is reaping a fruitful harvest from the Victorian kitchen garden at the Devonshire Arms Hotel and Spa. Home-grown produce - herbs, vegetables, fruit and edible flowers from the walled gardens and meat and game reared on the Bolton Abbey estate - is showcased in his new six-course tasting menu, ‘The Taste of the Dales’.

Sustainability is very much on the menu, with Paul working his creative flair on food growing just a few yards from the dining-room.

Beetroot, savoy cabbage, swiss chard, carrots, parsnips and potatoes, apples, brambles, berries and plums, as well as garden herbs including fennel, lemon balm and thyme, are among the seasonal produce reaped from the historic garden - complementing the rich flavours of game from the nearby moors.

Also used is honey harvested from a beehive in the garden - rich, dark and fragranced with moorland heather at this time of year. Honey is used in various ways, from stock for pork cheeks to a gin hot toddy.

The produce changes with the seasons. In summer, the wild strawberry bed is picked to make a syrup for ice-cream. In autumn, squash is used with a venison dish and elderberries are served with scallops.

"There's not much we don't use from the garden; we make chutneys from the fruit, we infuse stones from the plum tree to make marzipan liqueur, we use mustard flowers for beef dishes, the mint for six different mint teas, we make gins, vodka and vinegar from soft bed fruits like blueberries and whitecurrants - we even make syrup from the birch trees," says Paul, 33, who plans to introduce tours of the kitchen garden for hotel guests and diners.

"We know that come autumn and winter we'll have root vegetables, like cabbage and squash, so we can plan what meat or fish to use with them.

"The garden is like part of the kitchen; the standards are the same. It's about having respect for the ingredients, and for the provenance. When you've come through the Dales and pulled up at the Devonshire Arms, you expect your food to be local, to know where it has come from, how it has been produced, and the journey to the plate. We expect this with meat and fish - why not with fruit and vegetables?

"Our kitchen garden is on the doorstep - produce is picked fresh in the morning, prepared in the kitchen, then served the same day."

Baby vegetables are grown in a Victorian greenhouse, then transplanted outdoors. Vegetables are stored in sand at the end of summer to preserve for winter.

As a child Paul loved to visit his grandfather's home brew shops. "The brewing and ingredients fascinated me. My mum still has his old wine books and recipes," he says. Originally from Hull, he has been head chef at the Burlington Restaurant for three months. It is, he says, "the position I've wanted all my life".

"When I went for the 'Dev', I was working in Scotland. I had to do a 'cook-off', which is normal practice for a head chef position, and I drove through the night to get here. I finished work at 1am, packed up the car, took a half-hour kip in a service station car park, and en route I picked up scallops and ran into some bushes to pick wild garlic. I got here with everything intact, apart from a couple of plants which hadn't lasted in the back of the car. I was in the kitchen at 9am, cooking for a two-hour interview process.

"It was always my ambition to work at the Devonshire Arms. Scotland was amazing - but this felt like coming home."

Paul's love of foraging began in Scotland, where he was head chef at the Michelin-starred Isle of Eriska. My fiance Robyn and I would take the dog for a walk and come back with 10 kilos of wild mushrooms and sea herbs," says Paul. "We started growing our own vegetables. I found that cooking and gardening go hand-in-hand."

Inspired by kitchen garden specialist Ken Holland, former head gardener at L'Enclume, Paul set up his own kitchen garden at Eriska, supplying most of the hotel's fresh vegetables. Previously, he was sous chef at Andrew Fairlie, Gleneagles, one of Britain's most elite hotel restaurants. Other posts include The Feversham Arms, Helmsley. His aim is to make the Burlington "one of the most talked-about restaurants in the UK".

"My style is light and natural, not too fussy," he says. "Freshness and quality are key; I'm blessed to have such a wonderful rural location for sourcing ingredients."

When he's not leading his 13-strong team, in both the kitchen and the neighbouring garden, he and fiance Robyn are busy planning their wedding. "We dine out a lot. At home I like to light a fire and enjoy a big plate of cheese," he smiles

Paul's six-course taster menu showcases produce from the kitchen garden and the estate, including venison, Dales lamb and grass-fed beef, along with fish and seafood, such as Whitby crab, samphire and oyster leaf, from the East Yorkshire coast.

Invited to try the menu, I enjoyed a series of deliciously fresh, beautifully presented dishes, including heritage carrot with smoked eel and spiced seeds, wild halibut with onions and kale, greengages from the Duke’s garden with last-of-the-season cucumber, and garden apples with Yorkshire Skyr and blueberries. With every fruit and vegetable picked in the garden that day, this was very much a taste of the Dales. Each course was accompanied by a wine from the hotel’s collection of over 1,200 bins.

Dinner comes with an overnight stay option at the historic hotel, where rural charm blends with contemporary chic. One of the North’s finest country house hotels, the 40 individually-styled bedrooms include ‘dog-friendly’ rooms.

Reclining by the fire in a cosy sitting-room, before retiring to a stylish room with sweeping Dales views, was the perfect way to end this Yorkshire dining experience.

* 'The Taste of the Dales' is at the Burlington Restaurant, Tuesday to Thursday evenings, with the opportunity to stay over at a special rate.

* Call (01756) 710441 or visit