Meet The Guest Chef: Michael Caines

Michael-Caines-lrg-min

In our latest issue, the chef tells Zoë Perrett how he’s indulging his passions for fine wine and local produce at Lympstone Manor’s exciting new restaurant.

Following a 21-year stint at Gidleigh Park, Michael Caines is now commanding the kitchen at Lympstone Manor, a Georgian mansion-turned-hotel and restaurant in Devon. With stunning scenery, an abundance of local produce and plans to plant a vineyard on site, it seems the chef has made his smartest career move yet.

You’ve worked under legendary chefs including Raymond Blanc, Bernard Loiseau and Joël Robuchon, but who’s been your greatest mentor?
They all played a part, and continue to influence me, but I think it’s fair to say that Raymond is my greatest mentor – and a dear friend. He remains a strong, important influence and our friendship has grown.

Roast Devon quail

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received from a fellow chef?
In my second year of college, a lecturer told me to take criticism constructively and see it as a way of be bettering myself.

You were named Food Magazine’s ‘Local Food Hero’ in 2016 – who are your favourite producers?
I have a long list of food heroes, including Pipers Farm; lamb farmer and producer, Stuart Baker; Matthew Stevens; Flying Fish; Cornish Duck Company; Wiltshire Game, and Westcountry Cheese.

At Lympstone Manor, we’re excited about working with Darts Farm butchers just down the road, the Carters at Greendale Farm for fish, Dart Fresh, Salcombe Gin, and Dappa, who make a fantastic Devon Grappa. And then there are the fantastic local wineries like Lyme Bay, Totnes Sharpham Estate, Camel Valley, and Somerset Cider Brandy.

DINING ROOM

You’re instrumental in the Exeter Festival of South West Food and Drink (29 April -1 May) – what are some of 2017’s highlights?
We’re looking forward to hosting all the great chefs who are coming down – including Tom Kerridge and Paul Ainsworth, plus a great list of southwest chefs. A huge screen means better visibility of the cooking demos, and we’re building on previous successes with our supplier and music line-ups.

You lost your arm in a car accident after just two months at Gidleigh Park. How did you overcome the challenge it posed to your career?
Just by getting stuck back into work so I didn’t hang around feeling sorry for myself – that would have got me nowhere. I had an amazing opportunity that I was not going to give up for anything. At times like that, you simply have to chuck yourself back in at the deep end, so that’s what I did.

You remained at Gidleigh Park for an impressive 21 years, so what tempted you to move to Lympstone Manor?
Gidleigh is a family business, and I knew I wasn’t going to take over one day. I realised that, at my age, I have to be in control of my own destiny. There’s always a point in your career where you know that you need to move on and do something for yourself.

At Gidleigh, you held on to two Michelin stars for an impressive 18 years. Will you continue to strive to build upon that accolade?
Absolutely; our intention is to achieve two Michelin stars as a starting point! The push to achieve our third star is the heart of everything we’re doing. The success of any business lies in ensuring you’re looking a er your clients and giving them what they want. People have enjoyed my cuisine for many years, so it would be silly for me to do something different!

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