CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Devon Life today CLICK HERE

How Michael Caines MBE became Devon’s best- known chef

PUBLISHED: 16:36 15 April 2015 | UPDATED: 16:36 15 April 2015

Archant

He’s the founder of Exeter’s upcoming Food Festival and Devon’s best-known chef. Susan Clark asks how

Mr Michael Caines made it to the top of his game

Lobster Jelly with Caviar & Cauliflower CreamLobster Jelly with Caviar & Cauliflower Cream

He’s the man with the Midas touch in the kitchen and Devon’s best-known home-grown celebrity chef. But Mr Michael Caines is also the first person to acknowledge his culinary journey to the top was not a solo trip but inspired by a handful of people who helped him put in place all the building blocks that paved the way for the two Michelin stars he gained and held on to at Gidleigh Park.

I’m always interested in who is behind the success of anyone I meet and so asked Michael – the founder of the popular Exeter Festival of Food & Drink which takes place again in the Cathedral city this month – to name six of the key influences on his journey to become one of the country’s most talented and talked about chefs.

Here, in chronological order and in his own words, is his list and his memories of some of the stand out dishes that each of these six cooks and chefs taught him to make to perfection:

1 My Mum: I didn’t know I would end up choosing catering as a career but as the youngest child in a family of six kids, baking was always a fun-filled activity in our home. My mum, Patricia, taught me the value of home baking and of eating a meal together as a family and dad grew much of the fruit and veg we cooked with so again, I was picking up the idea that home-grown and homemade were not only delicious but core concepts to good eating and good food. The bake I remember best from my childhood is a fruit cake we used to make. In fact I still love fruit cake!

Chichken ChassuerChichken Chassuer

2 Bill Heads: Bill was one of the tutors at Exeter College where I studied catering. He was a great inspiration to me and had a lot of influence on how I began to think about food but over and above all of that, he taught me one of life’s greatest lessons which was how to take criticism constructively. He was a great cook himself and when he told me my food was okay I was crushed but then he added that he believed I could do a lot better which inspired me to aim higher in a way I would not have done without that comment. The dish I remember feeling proud to cook at this time was Chicken Chasseur.

3 Stephen Goodlad: After my training I moved to London where I cooked for a year-and-a- half under the guidance of this Yorkshireman who had a Michelin star. He was, as you would expect from a Yorkshireman, pretty straight talking but it was here, cooking in the kitchens at Grosvenor House, that I started to understand the difference between working, say, in a big hotel and a much smaller kitchen environment and to understand what it meant to work in a small but highly focused team. It was, if you like, my introduction to Fine Dining and the dish I remember most from this time of my life is Stephen’s Sea Bass cooked in a thick salt paste that I used to carefully cut away.

4 Raymond Blanc: I spent three years working at Le Manoir de Quatre Saisons in Oxfordshire which, at the time, held two Michelin stars. Raymond Blanc was, and still is, an amazing mentor to me and became a close personal friend. He really taught me the importance of seasonality, along with what it took to cook at the level of two Michelin stars. It was here that I first fell in love with the idea of cooking as part of the team running a country hotel property and the standout dish for me from this time was Raymond’s daring Sole Souffle which we served with crab, lemongrass and ginger.

5 Bernard Loiseau: I left Le Manoir to carry on developing my skills cooking the French classics and moved to Saulieu, France, where the chef held three Michelin stars. Here, I learned the importance of regionality in Fine Dining and also the true meaning of what the French call ‘terroir’ which is a sense of place or belonging. I started to understand that three Michelin-star cooking was not necessarily more complicated but it was more exacting and that the quality of the ingredients being used was paramount. There are so many dishes I remember cooking from this time including Loiseau’s signature Frogs Legs with Parsley and Garlic but the dish that still influences my own cooking now was his Truffle Potato Puree which depended entirely on using the right kind of Dutch potatoes – a variety called Binge.

6 Joel Rubichon: I moved to Paris to cook alongside Joel Rubichon; a perfectionist who was also technically brilliant. Joel ran a very, very disciplined kitchen and so it was from him that I refined my ideas about the type of kitchen I would like to run myself. Joel was the last chef I cooked with before moving to Gidleigh Park and the dish I think of when I think back to that time is the Lobster Jelly with Caviar and Cauliflower Cream. Again, the emphasis was on regionality which is something I have maintained through my own cooking.

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Devon Life visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Devon Life staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Devon Life account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Out & About

Tue, 11:06

Wild camping can be one of the best ways to escape the crowds for a night or two and lose yourself in the landscape - SOPHIE PAVELLE chooses her five favourite places to ‘wild-life’ camp in Devon

Read more
Tuesday, October 9, 2018

From sandy beaches and lighthouse-topped cliffs to views of the Jurassic Coast, the Devon coastline offers many perfect locations for a seaside walk. We pick 10 of the prettiest routes to take

Read more
Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Take our quiz to find out how well you really know Devon

Read more
Tuesday, October 2, 2018

As the weather starts to warm up and the Devon countryside beckons, LIZZIE JANE of the National Trust in the South West offers plenty of walk ideas for you to try. Whether you want a relaxed Sunday stroll or a more strenuous hike, here are 10 walks across Devon (and beyond) to help you escape the crowds and head off the beaten track

Read more
Tuesday, September 25, 2018

The South West Coast Path is celebrating 40 years by calling on people to help raise £40,000. To show their support, teams from Devon’s top tourist attractions are preparing to take to the trail. CHRISSY HARRIS finds out more

Read more
Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Away from the hustle of places like Woolacombe and Ilfracombe, North Devon is peppered with tiny coves, empty beaches and wooded walks leading to secluded bays that feel a million miles away from the tourist trail. BECKY DICKINSON reveals her pick of the best kept secrets on the North Devon coast

Read more
Friday, September 14, 2018

As part of her regular series where she visits Devon’s best places for 24 hours, Lydia Tewkesbury has this time been to Sidmouth

Read more
Thursday, September 13, 2018

Ranging from rocky and windy walkways along the South West Coast Path to the sandy beaches on the picturesque coastline, the district of North Devon is one of the prettiest coastal areas in the South West of England. In no particular order, here are 10 of the prettiest villages in the district of North Devon

Read more
Tuesday, September 11, 2018

In Devon’s towns and cities there’s an awful lot you can do in just 24 hours. For her regular feature, Lydia Tewkesbury travels to see what you can do in a day in Kingsbridge

Read more
Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Villages in Devon are some of the prettiest in the South West. From beautiful little hamlets on the outskirts of the moors to seaside communities, we pick 10 villages in Devon you need to visit

Read more
Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Dust off your walking shoes and head to South Devon – here are 6 reasons why the area is so good for a stroll writes Victoria Rogers

Read more
Tuesday, August 28, 2018

There is something quite life-enriching about being by the water and in Devon there are plenty of ways to enjoy it, writes Fran McElhone. Including surfing, wild swimming, water skiing and more, here are 10 great ways to enjoy Devon’s water

Read more
Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Encompassing large swathes of Dartmoor and plenty of the county’s most distinctive sections of coastline, it’s no wonder that the South Hams district is home to some of Devon’s prettiest places. We pick out 10 of the best towns and villages the area has to offer

Read more
Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Devon is as beautiful underwater as it is above. Chrissy Harris highlights the best places to discover our county’s hidden depths… Here are 6 great places for crabbing, rockpooling and diving

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy



Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Subscribe or buy a mag today


subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search