Grand Chef Relais & Châteaux Michael Caines MBE has earned his Michelin starred status at his residence, Gidleigh Park restaurant in Devon. By far the greatest treasure in the Gidleigh Park experience is of course the excellent cuisine created by Grand Chef Michael Caines. Match this with one of the finest wine cellars in the UK, holding over 1,200 bins, and you know that a visit to Gidleigh Park will be an unforgettable experience.
Chef Caines culinary career began in Exeter Catering College where his talents were awarded with ‘Student of the Year’ status in 1987 at the ripe age of just 18 years old. Following this, chef Caines spent three years under his mentor Raymond Blanc at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons in Oxfordshire. From here, he then moved to France for a further formative period of training, honing his skills under the guidance of top chefs Bernard Loiseau in Saulieu and Joël Roubechon in Paris.
In 1994 chef Caines returned to Britain to take up the position of Head Chef at Gidleigh Park. Gidleigh’s restaurant was already rated amongst the most prestigious in the country and the position represented a massive challenge and opportunity for Michael – a then young and ambitious chef.
Since, chef Caines has earned his reputation as one of the UK’s top chefs during his residence at Gidleigh Park where he serves distinctive modern European cuisine and utilises the finest local and regional produce – award winning cuisine which has maintained the restaurant's two Michelin stars since 1999.
In 1999 Michael founded Michael Caines Restaurants Ltd, and just a year later opened his first signature restaurant The Royal Clarence, Exeter, Britain’s first hotel. A chance encounter with Andrew Brownsword in 2003 resulted in a dynamic partnership and the purchase of The Royal Clarence. A short while later came the creation of ABode Hotels – a project chef Caines shares with Andrew Brownsword.
Amongst numerous other recent accolades, Michael has cooked at 10 Downing Street for the Prime Minister, and he took part in ‘The Great British Menu’ chef’s competition broadcast on BBC2 television for the honour of cooking for the Queen’s 80th Birthday. As well as his Michelin status, chef Caines was also named AA Chef’s Chef of the Year in 2007, and awarded an MBE in 2006 for services to the hospitality industry.
What was your most moving culinary experience?
The first time I went to eat at Raymond Blanc’s restaurant. I was nineteen at the time and I don’t come from a privileged family. That was where my passion started. I had never had the opportunity to eat in a place like that. The individual dishes of the tasting menu, the quality of the food, but more than anything it was the totality of the experience.
The most amusing kitchen incident you ever witnessed?
When I worked in Robuchon’s kitchen in Paris, it was tough but quite funny. I was there a total of two and a half years: tough cuisine, tough kitchen. Once Robuchon confronted Gordon Ramsey about dish he was working on: “What is this? What is this?” And Gordon answered, “It’s crap.” The regime there is legendary: Very old school. It’s a tough place!
Your best piece of advice for amateur chefs?
In cooking at home, there’s no right or wrong. Be adventurous. Challenge your technical abilities, build a repertoire of dishes, develop skills over time, try different things each week. Taste as you go and acquire confidence.
- 2 Michelin Stars
- AA Chef’s Chef of the Year, 2007
- MBE for services to the hospitality industry, 2006
TQ13 8HH (Devon)
+ 44 (0)1647 432367