Ian Hewitt is quite honest when I ask if he always wanted to work with food.

"I did a degree in chemistry," he admits, "but I didn't enjoy it quite as much by the end."

Cooking, however, was something he did enjoy. So he decided to put aside his science-based dreams and retain as a chef.

He took on an apprenticeship at The Dormy in Ferndown and was trained in the restaurant side of the business, before working in several rosette establishments and developing his career, finally becoming a head chef.

But a young family followed and Ian decided again to change course, taking his passion for good food and healthy eating in a different direction.

He now has his finger in several different pies, including doing regular cookery demonstrations at Purewell Electrical's Neff Cookery Theatre, running his own catering company, Hewitt's Home Dining, and working with the Christchurch Food Festival Education Trust to promote healthy eating in local schools.

"I enjoy working with food," says Ian, simply.

"It's a nice way to work with food and I enjoy having a varied career. It's good to teach people so that they can enjoy their food more than they do already.

"I think it's important that people sit down and have a meal - food is an important part of everybody's life and it's become very neglected."

Ian, who lives in Highcliffe, clearly thoroughly enjoys passing on his love of cooking and fresh food to wider audience - of all ages. He is just as at home in front of a group of primary school pupils as he is adults paying for a professional demonstration.

And he feels a certain duty to educate those who missed out on cooking lessons growing up.

"There's a whole generation of people that missed being educated on food at school," he explains.

"It's my generation and my age that missed that, so I'm passionate about promoting healthy food, healthy eating. It's balanced eating as much as healthy eating.

"It's not all plates of veg, it's about cooking for yourself so you know what's in it."

Ian first became involved with the team at Purewell when he headed up a demonstration for the cookery theatre's launch event. He now returns every couple of weeks with a new dish to teach, with the aim of getting people to recreate his food at home.

"My cooking isn't fancy," he says, "I want people to be able to reproduce things at home.

"I think the demonstrations have to be very interactive - I like questions and I learn a lot as well. I always find that people really enjoy it, and I always enjoy seeing people enjoy what I cook for them."

hewittshomedining.com, cffet.org.uk

SIGNATURE DISH: Lemon sole with asparagus and spinach

Try one of Ian's favourite fish recipes at home...

Put some fish stock on to reduce and bring down by half. Add the juice of one lemon and some white wine and reduce a little. Then add some double cream and reduce to a good sauce consistency.

For the sole, either place two cross cut fillets on a tray and bake for 10-12 minutes, or poach in a little fish stock.

Steam some asparagus in a little water for one or two minutes until tender, and wilt some baby spinach in a large pan.