Michael Caines


Michael Caines

Michael Caines is one of the most respected chefs in the UK. With his own Michelin-starred country house hotel Lympstone Manor, he is writing the next chapter in his illustrious career.

Born in Exeter in 1969, Michael Caines grew up as part of a large family and has fond memories of helping his adopted mother cook in the kitchen with the fruits and vegetables from his father’s garden. After attending Exeter Catering College (and being named Student of the Year in the process) he spent one and a half years at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London. But it was the following three years at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons under chef Raymond Blanc that Michael really began to hone his skills.

‘Raymond is a visionary and a free spirit who knows no boundaries,’ he says. ‘He taught me above all to be completely open to new ideas. He has one of the best palates of any chef I’ve worked with.’

With a love for French cuisine fully instilled in him, Michael travelled to France for his final training. He worked with luminary French chefs Bernard Loiseau and Joël Robuchon, who both helped shape and influence the cooking style Michael is famous for today. ‘Bernard Loiseau, like Raymond, was very charismatic, larger than life,’ he says. ‘His greatest gift was the ability to extract intensity and purity of flavours from the simplest cooking, always utilising the finest local ingredients from his native Burgundy. Joël Robuchon’s technical ability was unsurpassed. A strict disciplinarian and a stern taskmaster, he sought – and demanded – precision and perfection in every way, the Swiss watchmaker of world cuisine.’

In 1994, Michael left France to return to Britain and assume the role of head chef at Gidleigh Park, which at the time was regarded as one of the best restaurants in the country with a Michelin star. At just twenty-five years old this was a huge opportunity for Michael, but it almost ended abruptly for the chef just two months into the job, when he was involved in a serious car accident which required his right arm to be amputated.

Rather than letting this hold him back, Michael was back at Gidleigh Park working full-time in the kitchen after just four weeks. Overcoming an immense obstacle, he went on to take Gidleigh Park to new culinary heights, earning a second Michelin star for the country house hotel in 1999 and cementing his place as one of the country's finest chefs.

As well as running the highly successful restaurant at Gidleigh Park, Michael also launched many of his own businesses in the world of catering and hospitality. He worked with Andrew Brownsword to open the Abode Hotels in Exeter, Glasgow, Canterbury, Chester and Manchester, each with a Michael Caines Restaurant inside. He also has a restaurant in Abu Dhabi and has catered for the Williams Formula 1 team since 2011. On top of all that, he runs the Michael Caines Foundation, which supports a number of charities.

After twenty-one years at Gidleigh Park, Michael left to open his own hotel and restaurant in Devon called Lympstone Manor in early 2017.

His original cooking style – combining classical French technique with the finest ingredients of the South West, results in some wonderful dishes. Superlative Brixham turbot is poached in butter and comes with leeks, mushrooms and a sumptuous truffle butter sauce. There's loin of Powderham venison with chestnut, parsnip and vanilla purée, roasted vegetables, jasmine and raisin sauce, and langoustine cannelloni with braised fennel, sauce vierge, fennel purée, langoustine bisque. Both the tasting and à la carte menus change regularly to reflect the seasons, and Lympstone Manor's grounds are home to a huge variety of wild foods, as well as a fledgling vineyard from which Michael's team make their own sparkling wines.

After decades of working for various bosses, Michael is finally beating to the sound of his own drum, and the results are clear for all to see. Just six months after opening, Michael and his team were awarded a Michelin star, as well as a five star hotel rating from the AA.