Michael Caines MBE is one of the UK’s most celebrated and acclaimed chefs, a successful and imaginative hotelier, a respected spokesperson for the hospitality industry, and a patron and fundraiser several of national and local charities and community organisations.
In 2017, Michael opened Lympstone Manor, a luxury country house hotel that sets a new benchmark for hospitality in the 21st century. Lympstone Manor is the culmination of a longstanding dream that Michael realised after three years of hard work and planning to transform an historic Grade II Georgian mansion into his exciting vision of contemporary country house hospitality for the 21st century. With 21 stunning guestrooms and suites named after the birds of the estuary, six Shepherd Huts named after woodland animals and three beautiful and individual dining rooms in which to savor Michael’s acclaimed Michelin starred cuisine matched with a world-class wine cellar, 28 acres of gardens, grounds and parkland including its very own vineyard all set in the beauty and tranquility of East Devon and the Jurassic Coast, a stay here is a totally exceptional experience.
‘Lympstone Manor has captured my heart, and now it is time for it to capture others.’
Michael has built his reputation on a highly personal and distinctive modern cuisine that celebrates the finest local and seasonal produce and ingredients from Devon and the South West along with drawing on influences from his travels around the world.
Michael appears regularly on Saturday Kitchen, and has made numerous appearances on MasterChef, The Great British Menu, Sunday Brunch and other broadcasts. He has numerous business interests and is extensively involved in community and charity work.
Michael held two Michelin stars for 18 consecutive years before he took the leap of faith to create his own country house hotel. Just six months from opening Lympstone Manor, Michael and the team were awarded their first Michelin star. Amongst his many accolades, Michael cooked in 10 Downing Street for the Prime Minister, was awarded AA Chef’s Chef of the Year in 2007, and received an MBE in 2006 for services to the hospitality industry. In 2015 he was made freeman of the City of Exeter “in recognition of his outstanding services to the field of cookery which has led to Exeter’s name being known around the world as one which supports cookery”. More recently, Michael has been honoured to be named Deputy Lieutenant to the Lord Lieutenant of Devon. Michael retains his Michelin stars along with his five AA Rosettes for Lympstone Manor.
Michael was born in Exeter in 1969 and adopted into a large and loving family. He gained his passion for food from his mother who he used to enjoy helping in the kitchen,
Says Michael, ” I grew up in a large family, and my love of food and cooking came from the big family meals we always shared together, prepared by my mother, who was a wonderful cook. My father loved to grow vegetables and fruit in our garden, and so I grew up appreciating the flavours of the freshest foods, picked that day and simply prepared.”
Michael attended Exeter Catering College where his precocious talent was clearly evident, earning him the accolade “Student of the Year” in 1987. He then spent three influential years under his mentor Raymond Blanc at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons in Oxfordshire. From there he moved to France for a further formative period of training, honing his profession under the guidance of such Chef superstars as the late Bernard Loiseau in Saulieu and Joél Robuchon in Paris.
Michael returned to his home county back in 1994 to take up the position of Head Chef at Gidleigh Park. The restaurant was already rated amongst the most prestigious in the country so the position represented a massive challenge and opportunity for a young and ambitious chef. Yet, only two months into the job, Michael suffered a terrible car accident in which he lost his right arm. Remarkably, he was back in the kitchen part time within two weeks, and full time after just four. With the support of then owners Paul and Kay Henderson and an unwavering belief in his own ability to overcome obstacles, he returned to the kitchens of Gidleigh Park more focused and determined than ever to pursue his dream of reaching the top of his profession. Michael’s 21 year tenure at the helm of Gidleigh Park kitchens came to the end in January 2016 when he left to dedicate himself to the creation of Lympstone Manor.
In addition to being one of Britain’s most acclaimed chefs, Michael is an entrepreneur who has successfully pursued and completed several important projects. In 2000, he returned to Exeter to oversee all the food and beverage operations at the city’s iconic Royal Clarence Hotel (Britain’s first ‘hotel’ was sadly destroyed by fire in 2016). It was at the Royal Clarence that Michael launched the first Michael Caines Restaurant. In 2003, he opened and successfully ran a Michael Caines Restaurant at the Marriott Royal Hotel in Bristol. A chance encounter with Andrew Brownsword led to a dynamic working partnership, the creation of ABode Hotels, and Michael Caines Restaurants, as well as MC Cafe Bars and Taverns in Exeter, Glasgow, Canterbury, Chester and Manchester. His partnership with Brownsword Hotels came to an end when he left Gidleigh Park in 2016 but he did so with many fond memories and wishing Andrew, Christina and the family every success in the future.
While Michael has been transforming Lympstone Manor into his dream vision, he has found the time to help in the creation of The Coach House by Michael Caines at Kentisbury Grange, North Devon as well as to mentor and advise at the Palé Hall Hotel and Restaurant in North Wales. He also opened a pop-up restaurant in Abu Dhabi, Pearls by Michael Caines, which proved a great success.
Michael was partnered with the Williams F1 Team, bringing his Michelin-starred food and hospitality to the team’s motorhome facility over race weekends.
Though Lympstone Manor has been the culmination of Michael’s lifelong dream, he is always hard at work on new projects, enthusiasms, representations.
In 2018, Michael was honoured to be named Deputy Lieutenant to the Lord Lieutenant of Devon, Her Majesty’s personal representative. DLs are appointed for their work in the county in a number of different fields. The citation recounts Michael’s many achievements and says, “Michael is proud to be Devonshire and encourages those in the community to enjoy all that the county has to offer.”
Michael is head of the UK and Ireland delegation and on the World Council of Relais & Châteaux: a group of luxury hotels, of which Lympstone Manor is a proud member.
In February 2020, Michael opened The Cove, a restaurant and bar overlooking the sea at Maenporth, near Falmouth. It was his first venture in Cornwall. The Harbourside Refuge was then opened shortly after in Porthleven. Michael then opened Mickeys Beach: a casual dining venue and café on the seafront at Exmouth and The Café Patisserie Glacerie: the place for fresh coffee, juices, hot pasties and pies, homemade pastries or Italian gelato made on the premises.